The Allahabad High Court recently directed the State government to submit information on the steps taken by it to implement the Witness Protection Scheme, 2018 (Rannsamar Foundation Thru. President Abha Singh v. State of Uttar Pradesh).

 

This direction was passed after the Court was told by the government counsel that the State had issued necessary directions for the immediate and effective implementation of the scheme and to even provide vulnerable witness boxes in courts. The Court has, in turn, asked the State to bring on record the letters and documents issued on the issue by it to all the District Authorities.

A Bench of Justices Pankaj Mithal and Saurabh Lavania was hearing a writ petition filed for the benefit of the witnesses in criminal cases.

The petitioner Abha Singh, President of the Rannsamar Foundation, approached the High Court seeking a suitable direction for the effective implementation of the directions of the Supreme Court as issued in the case of Mahendra Chawla vs. Union of India (Asaram Bapu Case).

The Asaram Bapu case had highlighted concerns of witnesses being intimidated and tortured in order to deter them from deposing against the godman.

The petitioner before the Allahabad High Court also pointed towards the recent Hathras rape case and the Unnao rape case, which highlighted the cruel manner in which witnesses were intimidated and tortured in order to compel their silence.

The key measures contemplated by the Supreme Court, which are sought to be enforced through the PIL include:

  1. the establishment of a Competent Authority to prepare a "Threat Analysis Report" concerning the life safety of witnesses;

  2. Creation of Witness Deposition Complexes in the District Courts;

  3. Creation of a Witness Protection Fund.

The State has now been asked to file a counter affidavit within two weeks, so that the petitioner may be able to reply and argue the matter further on merits.

The matter will be taken up next on 20 December 2020.

Abha Singh, 12/14/2020 12:00:00 AM


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