Witnesses facing threat from accused to be given protection: Centre to SC

Details :

The News:

  • The Centre has drafted a comprehensive scheme for providing protection to witnesses who face threats for deposing against the accused in criminal cases.
  • It aims to ensure that they give evidence in courts without fear for a fair trial.

 

Highlights

  • The scheme ensures that the process of investigation, prosecution and trial of criminal offences is not prejudiced because witnesses are intimidated or frightened to give evidence in the court due to threat from the accused.
  • It would ensure that witnesses depose before the court without any fear.
  • Police escort will be provided to witness who is being threatened and if needed, then they would be relocated to a temporary residence in a safe house.
  • The authority would keep monitoring of emails and telephone calls of the witness to grab the person threatening a witness.
  • A separate witness protection fund will be created in each state to meet the expenses incurred under the scheme
  • The draft has been prepared in consultation with the Bureau of Police Research and Development and NALSA.
  • The draft is now circulated among the states and UTs for their opinions.

Background

  • The Centre has come out with the draft in the backdrop of constant urging from the apex court.
  • The apex court had said that witness protection scheme can be implemented for at least sensitive cases and had urged Ministry of Home Affairs to come out with a comprehensive plan.
  • Witnesses are the eyes and ears of justice. Therefore there is a need to curb the recent “phenomenon” where witnesses are turning hostile in high-profile cases to frustrate justice delivery system.
  • The issue of witness protection programme had cropped up when the apex court was hearing a PIL seeking protection for witnesses in rape cases involving Asaram Bapu.
  • It should be noted that NIA (National Investigation Agency) Act 2008, provides for witness protection.

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