Supreme Court approves witness protection scheme

The Supreme Court on December 5 approved a witness protection scheme which has been prepared by the Central government in consultation with National Legal Services Authority. The top court also held that the right to life would include the right of witnesses to testify freely in courts.

The SC has also ordered all the state governments and union territory’s to enforce it in letter and spirit.

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

An SC Bench also recommended few changes and the draft states that a society which is “governed by a Rule of Law” should ensure that investigation, prosecution and trial of criminals are not biased due to threats or intimidation to witnesses.

The Bench added, “The right to testify in courts in a free and fair manner without any pressure and threat whatsoever is under serious attack today. If one is unable to testify in courts due to threats or other pressures, then it is a clear violation of Article 21 of the Constitution. The right to life guaranteed to the people of this country also includes in its fold the right to live in a society, which is free from crime and fear, and the right of witnesses to testify in courts without fear or pressure.”