Draft witness protection scheme
Why in News?
- The Supreme Court of India on November 19, 2018 said that it would direct all the states to implement the draft witness protection scheme framed by the Centre in consultation with the National Legal Services Authority (NALSA).
- The issue of witness protection scheme had cropped up earlier when the top court was hearing a public interest litigation (PIL) seeking protection for witnesses in rape cases involving a self-styled preacher.
- The court had asked the Centre to a draft scheme for witness protection in the country as specific provisions in this regard were already there in the National Investigation Agency (NIA) Act.
- The SC was told that the draft scheme has now been finalised and would be made into a law in due course.
- However till then the court should direct the states to start implementing it.
Witness Protection Scheme-2018:
- To enable a witness to give testimony in a judicial setting or to cooperate with law enforcement and investigations without fear of intimidation or reprisal.
- To ensure that the investigation, prosecution and trial of criminal offences is not prejudiced because witnesses are intimidated or frightened to give evidence without protection from violent or other criminal recrimination
- 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 the overall administration of Justice.
- To give witnesses the confidence to come forward to assist law enforcement and Judicial Authorities with full assurance of safety.
- To identify a series of measures that may be adopted to safeguard witnesses and their family members from intimidation and threats against their lives, reputation and property.
- Witness Protection Fund means the fund created for bearing the expenses incurred during the implementation of Witness Protection Order passed by the Competent Authority under this scheme;
- Witness Protection Order means an order passed by the Competent Authority detailing the steps to be taken for ensuring the safety of witness from threats to his or his family member’s life, reputation or property. It also includes interim order, if any passed, during the pendency of Witness Protection Application;
- Witness Protection Cell means a dedicated Cell of State/UT Police or Central Police Agencies assigned the duty to implement the witness protection order. It shall be responsible for the security as per witness protection order
Proposed Rights to be entitled to the Witness:
- Right to give evidence anonymously
- Right to protection from intimidation and harm
- Right to be treated with dignity and compassion and respect of privacy
- Right to information of the status of the investigation and prosecution of the crime
- Right to secure waiting place while at Court proceedings
- Right to transportation and lodging arrangements
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