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Report No. 198

2.3 Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973: Protection of witnesses

Coming to the issue of protection of witnesses in a criminal trial, it would appear that barring rape cases, there are, as of today, no general statutory provisions in the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 on this subject. Section 327 (2) of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 deals with 'in camera proceedings'. This section has laid down clearly that the inquiry into and trial of rape under section 376 and cases under sections 376A to 376D, Indian Penal Code shall be conducted in camera. This would enable the victim to be a little more comfortable and answer the questions frankly which could ultimately improve the quality of evidence of the prosecutrix or the victims.

2.3.1 The Supreme Court has referred to section 327(2) in its judgment in State of Punjab v. Gurmit Singh 1996(2) SCC 384 as to the adoption of in camera proceedings and reiterated the same again in its recent judgment in Sakshi v. Union of India: 2003(4) SCC 60, where it stated that section 327(2) applies to inquiry or trial of offences under sections 354 and 377 of IPC and has vast applications in rape and child abuse cases. We shall refer to this case in detail in Chapter V, para 5.16.

2.3.2 Further, section 228A of the Indian Penal Code provides that the Court shall impose a sentence of two years imprisonment and fine upon any person who prints or publishes the name or any matter which may identify the person against whom rape has been found or alleged to have been committed. This protection is given with a view to protect the rape victim's privacy from general public and so that the media may not cast stigma on the victim by disclosure of her identity.

2.3.3 Similarly, in the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000 section 21 prohibits the publication of name, address or school or any other particular calculated to lead to the identification of the juvenile. It also prohibits the publication of the picture of any such juvenile.

Witness Identity Protection and Witness Protection Programmes Back

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