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Supreme Court Approves Witness Protection Scheme, 2018 - (05 Dec 2018)


Supreme Court has approved the draft prepared by Centre on Witness Protection Scheme, 2018. In furtherance of approval, Apex Court has directed the Union of India as well as States and Union Territories to enforce the Witness Protection Scheme in letter and spirit. Until the enactment of suitable Parliamentary and/or State Legislations on the subject, it shall be the ‘law’ under Article 141/142 of the Constitution. The Objective set out in the Scheme is to ensure a witness to give testimony in a judicial setting or to cooperate with law enforcement and investigations without fear of intimidation or reprisal. It is aimed to identify series of measures that may be adopted to safeguard witnesses and their family members from intimidation and threats against their lives, reputation and property.

Witnesses play a vital role in facilitating the Court to arrive at correct findings on disputed questions of facts and to find out where the truth lies. They are, therefore, backbone in decision making process. Protection of witnesses is essential to enable Witnesses to depose fearlessly and truthfully. It would also ensure fair trial as well. A witness turns hostile due to reason that, they are not accorded appropriate protection by the State. It is a harsh reality, particularly, in those cases where the accused persons/criminals are tried for heinous offences, or where the accused persons are influential persons or in a dominating position as they make attempts to terrorize or intimidate the witnesses because of which these witnesses either avoid coming to Courts or refrain from deposing truthfully.

Further, Scheme Lays emphasize to promote law enforcement by facilitating the protection of persons who are involved directly or indirectly in providing assistance to criminal law enforcement agencies and overall administration of Justice. Witnesses need to be given the confidence to come forward to assist law enforcement and Judicial Authorities with full assurance of safety. The implementation of scheme would boost confidence in criminal justice system. Hearing a PIL titled Mahender Chawla And Ors. v. Union of India, a Bench of Justices A.K. Sikri and S. Abdul Nazeer said that, Witness Protection Scheme will come into effect immediately across all States of the Country.


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