Report No. 198
(Q) 13. Should the decision either admitting or refusing to admit a person to the Witness Protection Programme, be made appealable? To avoid delays, should such appeal lie directly to the High Court?
27 out of 38 respondents were in favour of providing a right of appeal against an order admitting or refusing to admit a witness to the programme. Mostly, it has been stated that appeal should lie to the High Court. Among these, 5 responses were from State Governments, 8 from Police Officers, 2 from Judges and 12 from others.
If a victim/witness is given physical protection outside Court or is relocated and given a different name, that no way affects the rights of the accused in that case and he can have no grievance as long as the person will be brought before the Court to depose against him. However, if such victim/witness has, in addition, a witness identity protection order, the accused has a right of appeal to the High Court as provided in section 15 of our Draft Bill.
However, if a Magistrate refuses to admit witness/victim to a witness protection programme, the witness/victim must have a right of appeal to the High Court.
There is no contradiction in not providing an appeal at the instance of an accused where a witness is admitted to protection outside Court under a programme on the one hand and providing an appeal in favour of the victim/witness in as much the case of a victim/witness who has been wrongly denied admission to the programme will compel such a person to live in fear outside Court throughout the period during which the criminal case may be pending.
We recommend accordingly in respect of the thirteen questions posed in the Consultation Paper in relation to 'Witness Protection Programmes'.
Justice M. Jagannadha Rao
Dr. D.P. Sharma