witness protection program

Witness Protection Program in Delhi

The Delhi government notified witness protection program called Delhi Witness Protection Program Scheme 2015 which ensures to protect the identity of witnesses.

Witness Protection Program Requirement:

Witness plays a very vital role in the court. They help the court in the process to bring justice. Their each and every statement is very important as it can change the course of the whole case. Due to this, witnesses are often getting threatened in order to change their statements or they become hostile. Sadly, India does not have a well functioning witness protection program despite various attempts made to improve it.

Definition of Witness

According to the Black Law Dictionary

In the primary sense of the word, a witness is a person who has knowledge of an event,  As the most direct mode of acquiring knowledge of an event is by seeing it, “witness” has acquired the sense of a person who is present at and observes a transaction.[1]

Reference 1 – Black’s Law Dictionary

A person who sees an event, typically a crime, accident, takes place. [2]

Reference 2- Oxford Dictionaries

Witness Dilemma

The most important reason is that the witness becoming hostile. To understand the process of hostile witness, Section 161(3) code of criminal procedure states “The police officer may reduce into writing any statement made to him in the course of an examination under this section; and if he does so, he shall make a separate and true record of the statement of each such person whose statement he records.” [3]

Reference 3 – Section 161(3) Code of Criminal Procedure

Witness Protection Program Law India

There is no witness protection program law in India for the protection of witnesses but has certain section that safeguards the interest of a witness.

Section 151 and 152 of Indian Evidence Act ensures that scandalous and offensive questions should not be asked to witnesses.

In the 198th report of law commission a paper was prepared on witness identity protection and witness protection programmes highlighting the categories of witnesses

Witness Types by Identity

  • Witnesses who are known to the accused.
  • Witnesses who are not known to the accused (e.g. as in a case of indiscriminate firing by the accused).
  • Witnesses whose identity is not known to the accused.
  • Category requires protection from trauma and against disclosure of identity.

Witness Protections Program Features Delhi

Delhi Witness Protection Scheme, 2015 is a step to protect the witness from threats and stop them from becoming hostile.

Witness Identity Protection:

This program ensures prohibiting the disclosure of name, address and any particular information of the witness which may lead to disclosure of his identity, changing the identity of witness or re-locating the person.

Witness Trial:

Facilities such as in camera proceedings and ‘live link’ are now provided to the witness in which he/she is not required to come to the court for proceedings. [4] It is further ensured that the accused is not able to see the witness or tries to monitor the witness activities or phone calls and emails.

Reference 4 – 198th report of Law Commission of India

Witness Security:

Another step taken under this program is to provide security to the witness, guarding his residence and proving escort vehicles to him.

Steps Taken by Delhi Police

The Delhi has also established a witness protection cell under Delhi police and the authority of the cell is given to assistant commissioner of police (ACP) and deputy commissioner of police (DCP). The government provides the witness protection fund from fines deposited in the court, budgetary allocation and any contribution made from institutions and individuals.

Reference 5 – http://indianexpress.com/article/cities/delhi/delhi-government-notifies-witness-protection-programme/

As the dialogue from a Bollywood movie named Damini says Tareekh pe tareekh (dates after dates), this same Tareekh(Date) kills witness’s moral about judiciary system of India. In the mean time anything can happen to that witness if he/she is prime witness in any high profile cases. In India there are many such cases where main accused can get free or be out on bail because of the lack of witness and witness protection program.

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