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Current Affairs

Odisha implement’s Centre’s Witness Protection Scheme

Date: 11 July 2019 Tags: Polity & Governance

Odisha Government has informed State High Court that it has implemented Centre’s Witness Protection Scheme 2018. Endorsing this Central scheme in December 2018, Supreme Court had directed all States/UTs to implement it in letter and spirit. Odisha government has implemented apex court order by way of gazette notification of its Witness Protection Scheme-2019 on July 6.

About Witness Protection Scheme, 2018

Objective: It aims to ensure that investigation, prosecution and trial of criminal offences are not prejudiced because witnesses are intimidated or frightened to give evidence without protection from other criminal forces. It provides for protection of witnesses based on the threat assessment.

Protection measures inter alia include: Protection/change of identity of witnesses, their relocation, installation of security devices at residence of witnesses, usage of specially designed Court rooms, etc.

It provides for three categories of witness as per threat perception:

  • Category A: Where threat extends to life of witness or his family members, during investigation or trial or thereafter.
  • Category B: Where threat extends to safety, reputation or property of witness or his family members, during investigation or trial or thereafter.
  • Category C: Where     threat   is   moderate   and   extends   to harassment or intimidation of witness or his family member's, reputation or property, during investigation or trial or thereafter.

State Witness Protection Fund: There is provision for State Witness Protection Fund for meeting expenses of scheme. This fund is operated by Department/ Home Ministry under State/UT Government. It shall comprise of (i) Budgetary allocation made in Annual Budget by State Government. (ii) Receipt of amount of costs imposed/ ordered to be deposited by courts/tribunals in Witness Protection Fund. (iii) Donations and contributions from Philanthropist, Charitable Institutions, organizations and individuals permitted by the Government. (iv) Funds contributed under Corporate Social Responsibility.

Background

Supreme Court in its Judgment in December 2018 in Writ Petition (Criminal) had endorsed this Scheme. As per Article 141/142 of Constitution of India, this scheme endorsed in this judgment of the Supreme Court is binding on all Courts within territory of India and enforceable in all States/UTs.