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Report No. 198

3.3 TADA 1985 and TADA 1987: Protection of identity

In view of increase in terrorist activities in recent times, initially, the Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act, 1985 and thereafter the Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act, 1987 were enacted. These Acts contained specific provisions in regard to the protection of witnesses. Section 13 of the Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act, 1985 refers to protection of the identity and address of the witness and in camera proceedings. It reads as follows:

"13. (1) Notwithstanding anything contained in the Code, all proceedings before a Designated Court shall be conducted in camera:

Provided that where public prosecutor so applies, any proceedings or part thereof may be held in open court.

(2) A Designated Court may, on an application made by a witness in any proceedings before it or by the public prosecutor in relation to a witness or on its own motion, take such measures as it deems fit keeping the identity and address of the witnesses secret.

(3) In particular and without prejudice to the generality of provisions of sub-section (2), the measures which a Designated Court may take under that sub-section may includ.-

(a) the holding of the proceedings at a protected place;

(b) the avoiding of the mention of the names and address of what witnesses in its orders or judgments or in any records of case accessible to public;

(c) the issuing of any directions for security that the identity and addresses of the witnesses are not disclosed.

(4) Any person who contravenes any direction issued under subsection (3) shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to one year and with fine which may extend to one thousand rupees."

3.4 Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act, 1987 which followed the Act of 1985 provided likewise for the protection of identity of witnesses in section 16 with a few charges. Section 16 differed from section 13 of TADA Act, 1985 in two respects. Firstly, whereas it was mandatory to hold proceedings in camera under section 13 of TADA Act, 1985 the proceedings could be held in camera under section 16 of TADA Act, 1987 only where the Designated Court so desired.

Secondly, section 16(3)(d) of the TADA Act, 1987 empowered a Designated Court to take such measures in the public interest so as to direct that information in regard to all or any of the proceedings pending before such a Court shall not be published in any manner. The provisions of section 16 were elaborately considered by the Supreme Court in Kartar Singh v. State of Punjab 1994(3) SCC 569. We shall be referring to that case in detail when we come to Chapter V, in para 5.7.

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