From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : Nothing much
Mains level : Witness protection in a criminal justice system
Maharashtra came out with the Maharashtra Witness and Protection and Security Act 2017. However, the Centre and most other states are yet to act on the directive.
- Supreme court gave its assent last year to the Witness Protection Scheme drafted by the Centre.
- The scheme was meant to be a measure in force only until the government brought out its own law on the issue.
- The objective of the scheme is to ensure the safety of witnesses so that they are able to give a true account of the crime without any fear of violence or criminal recrimination.
- Though the scheme provides for police personnel to be deployed to protect the witness, it is silent on the punishment to be given to those policemen who themselves threaten the witnesses.
- Criminals continue to get support from the police. The shadowy politician-police nexus is so strong that no policeman dares take any action against his ‘master’.
- The Witness Protection Scheme calls for more elaborate and stricter laws to be incorporated so that criminals find no loopholes that can be exploited to their advantage.
The sooner the Centre comes up with legislation codifying the protection to be given to witnesses, the better it is for India’s criminal justice system.