SC approves Centre’s Witness Protection Scheme

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Supreme Court has approved the Witness Protection Scheme 2018 and directed Union and State Governments to enforce the same. This scheme was framed by Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) in response to PIL seeking protection for witnesses.

The apex court held that scheme will become law under Article 141/142 of Constitution till enactment of parliamentary and state legislation on the subject. It also directed states/UTs to set up the vulnerable witness deposition complexes (VWDCs) within a period of 1 year (by the end of 2019).

It also observed that there is the paramount need to have witness protection regime in statutory form. The main reasons for establishing these VWDC is the large percentage of acquittal in criminal cases is due to witnesses turning hostile and giving false testimonies, mostly due to lack of protection for them and their families.

It has been formulated by Home Ministry on the inputs received from 18 States/UTs, five state legal services authorities and open sources including civil society, three high courts as well as from police personnel. It was finalized in consultation with National Legal Services Authority (NALSA).

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