GUWAHATI: In a development that will ensure fair investigation, prosecution and trial of criminal offences, the Assam Government has taken steps to effectively execute the Witness Protection Scheme, 2018.
The Political (A) Department has already issued instructions to the departments concerned of the State to take appropriate action in this regard for its effective implementation.
The Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has prepared the Witness Protection Scheme, 2018 in consultation with the National Legal Service Authority, Bureau of Police Research and Development and the State Governments. The scheme provides for the protection of witnesses based on the threat assessment.
The Supreme Court has endorsed the Witness Protection Scheme, 2018 and accordingly directed the Centre, States as well as Union Territories to enforce the scheme in letter and spirit. The scheme will be considered as the ‘law’ under Article 141/142 of the Constitution till the enactment of suitable Parliamentary or State Legislations on the subject.
The scheme will apply to witnesses of three categories, based on threats. The Supreme Court has also directed the States to establish vulnerable witness deposition complexes or rooms by the end of 2019. “Witnesses are the eyes and ears of the court,” the draft of Witness Protection Scheme observed.
The prime objective of the Witness Protection Scheme is to ensure that the investigation, prosecution and trial of criminal offences is not prejudicial because witnesses are intimidated or frightened to give evidence without protection from violent or other criminal recrimination. It aims to promote law enforcement by facilitating the criminal law enforcement agencies and overall administration of justice. It aimed to identify series of measures that may be adopted to safeguard witnesses and their family members from intimidations and threats against their lives, reputation and property.
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