HC seeks report on Witness Protection Scheme

The Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court sought a report from the High Court Registry on whether the Witness Protection Scheme, 2018 was notified, a standing committee and a Witness Protection Fund was created in each district.

Justice G. Chandrasekharan also sought to know as to whether witness protection cell and vulnerable witness court rooms were set up in each district. The court sought the report on July 27.

The court was hearing the bail petition filed by an advocate Chokkar, one of the accused in the murder of advocate K. Ranjith Kumar in Uthamapalayam, Theni district. The murder is said to have taken place following a dispute over the settlement of a property.

The judge observed that the scheme provides for a standing committee in each district to be chaired by the District and Sessions Judge with Head of the Police in the district as member and Head of the Prosecution in the district as the Member Secretary.

As per the scheme, a Witness Protection Fund has to be created and witness protection cell has to be established for duly implementing the witness protection order. Specially designed vulnerable courtrooms have to be created which shall have special arrangements.

The special arrangements in the courtrooms include live video links, one way mirror and screens, apart from separate passages for witness and accused, option to modify the image of the witness, modify audio feed of witness voice, so that he/she was not identifiable.

Following a Supreme Court order, the Witness Protection Scheme came into effect, the court observed. The accused in the case were also advocates and the court was informed that the main witness in the case was threatened by the accused.

Protection under the scheme was granted to the witness for two months. Thereafter, there was no specific order for extension of witness protection to the witness, the court said and sought a report from the High Court Registry. The counsel in the case were unable to inform the court whether the scheme had been notified.

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Printable version | Sep 27, 2021 11:12:51 PM |

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