Supreme Court approves 'Witness Protection Scheme, 2018'

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Supreme Court of India
Supreme Court of India

New Delhi : After much hearing, the Supreme Court finally nodes head to the witness protection regime in India. The apex court has noted that one of the main reasons for witnesses turning hostile is that they are not given security by the State.

A Bench of Justices A.K. Sikri and S. Abdul Nazeer said Witness Protection Scheme, 2018 will come into effect immediately across all States.

According to the scheme, witness protection may be as simple as providing a police escort to the witness up to the courtroom or, in more complex cases involving an organised criminal group, taking extraordinary measures such as offering temporary residence in a safe house, giving a new identity, and relocation at an undisclosed place.

The honourable court said the scheme, which aimed to enable a witness to depose fearlessly and truthfully, would be the law of the land till Parliament enacted suitable legislation.

To inform, the witness protection scheme came into consideration when Supreme Court was hearing a public interest litigation plea seeking protection for witnesses in rape cases involving self-styled preacher Asaram Bapu.

The Bench said witnesses feared serious consequences if they deposed against Asaram. “It is alleged that as many as 10 witnesses have already been attacked and three witnesses have been killed,” it noted.