India is all set to get its very own witness protection programme, with the Supreme Court today (5 December) giving its approval to the draft ‘Witness Protection Scheme’ formulated by the government.
Until a formal bill is passed by the Parliament, the Supreme Court had directed all states except for Jammu and Kashmir to follow the draft scheme, reports India Today.
The apex court’s ruling stems from a petition requesting protection for witnesses in the rape cases involving Asaram Bapu. The bench headed by Justice A K Sikri also made some changes to the draft scheme, which was prepared by the Centre while consulting state governments.
The government had notified the court of its draft scheme in the previous hearing, and had suggested that the court direct states to follow it until it was turned into a law by the Parliament ‘in due course’.
In today’s hearing, the court accepted the suggestion and asked the states to follow the draft scheme until a law is passed.
A previous version of the draft published by the government hints at some of the principal features of the new scheme, such as ensuring that witnesses do not have to come face-to-face with the accused, providing them with close proximity protection, installing CCTV cameras at their homes, hiding their identity, tracking phone calls and mail, etc.