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What is witness protection scheme

Taking note of the witness not provided appropriate protection by the state as one of the reasons for them to turn hostile, the Supreme court has approved India’s first witness protection scheme.

Provisions of the scheme:-

  • There should be safeguards that witness and accused do not come face to face during investigation or trial and adequate security measures should be there for the safety of the witness.
  • The scheme provides for identity protection and giving a new identity to the witness.
  • A police escort will be provided to the witness.
  • Witness deposition complexes will be set up in all district courts.

Pros of the scheme:-

  • The first attempt at the national level to holistically provide for the protection of the witness.
  • It will reduce secondary victimization.
  • Scheme attempts to provide adequate protection.
  • It will encourage the witness to be firm on their statements and encourage others to be a witness.
  • It will strengthen the criminal justice system.

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Pros of the scheme:-

  • Overemphasize on the security of witnesses, which is a less important factor for them to turn hostile.
  • Concealing the identity of witness undertaking a detailed threat analyze report by overworked and understaffed police force are not feasible.
  • Relocation of witness is not liked by most of them.
  • In-camera trial and contact between the witness and the accused are not practical.

Way forward:-

  • A witness assistantship Programme should be envisaged wherein they are given more assistance, care and dignity.
  • Frequent adjournment of cases should be avoided, it causes major harassment.
  • Claims of allowance of the witness should be accepted without hassle.

The witness, being eyes and ears of justice, play an important role in bringing perpetrators of crime to justice. Few tweaks in the scheme will ensure faster justice faster delivery and national security.

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