“Witness, the most important evidence, who sees an event happening in front of his eyes”.
Therefore, it becomes the duty of the state to protect the same and present him/her in front of the eye of law to impart justice to the party concerned. The Supreme Court bench comprising of Justice A.K.Sikri and Justice Ashok Bhushan in Mahendra Chawla v Union of India, directed for setting up a Witness Protection Scheme (WPS) framed by the Centre. The bench said, this scheme will hold its importance till there is any appropriate legislation to replace it.
The apex court held that it will become a law under Article 141/142 of the Constitution of India. The main reason behind the framing of such scheme was because there was large number of acquittal in criminal cases as the witness use to turn hostile and give false testimonies, mostly because of lack of protection.
According to the WPS, the witness protection measures shall be proportionate to the threat and shall be a for a specific duration not exceeding three months at a time.
They may include:
- Ensuring that witness and accused do not come face to face during investigation or trial.
- Monitoring of mail and telephone calls.
- Arrangement with the telephone company to change the witness’s telephone number or assign him/her any unlisted number.