WITNESS PROTECTION SCHEME
12, Jul 2019
Prelims level : Polity & Governance: Judiciary, Schemes Mains level : GS-II - Structure, organization and functioning of the Executive and the Judiciary Ministries and Departments of the Government; pressure groups and formal/informal associations and their role in the Polity.
Why in News?
- Minister of State for Home Affairs informed about the scheme in a written reply to question in the Rajya Sabha.
Witness Protection Scheme:
- Witness Protection Scheme, 2018 provides for protection of witnesses based on the threat assessment and protection measures.
- It includes protection/change of identity of witnesses, their relocation, installation of security devices at the residence of witnesses, usage of specially designed Court rooms, etc.
- As per Article 141/142 of the Constitution, the Witness Protection Scheme, 2018 endorsed in the said Judgment of the Supreme Court is binding on all Courts within the territory of India and enforceable in all States and Union Territories.
Other Provisions of the scheme:
- 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
Witness Protection Fund:
- The Scheme provides for a State Witness Protection Fund for meeting the expenses of the scheme.
- This fund shall be operated by the Department/Ministry of Home under State/UT Government and shall comprise of the following:
- Budgetary allocation made in the Annual Budget by the State Government;
- Receipt of amount of costs imposed/ ordered to be deposited by the courts/tribunals in the Witness Protection Fund;
- Donations/ contributions from Philanthropist/ Charitable Institutions/ Organizations and individuals permitted by the Government.
- Funds contributed under Corporate Social Responsibility.