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Report No. 198

(Q) 18. Can the defence be allowed to contend that the prosecution witness who is given anonymity is a stock witness?

Normally, the defence is entitled to contend that a particular prosecution witness is a stock witness. But, when a prosecution witness is given anonymity, the defence may not be able to know the actual identity of such witness. In such cases, whether the defence be allowed to contend that such prosecution witness (who is given anonymity) is a stock witness?

There are mixed responses on this issue. In all 17 respondents have opined that the defence be allowed to contend that the prosecution witness who is given anonymity is a stock witness. Among them, 5 responses are from senior police officials, 2 are from State Governments, 1 from a Judge, and 9 are from others.

Apart from this, 4 respondents (all are others) are of the view that though the defence may be allowed to contend that the witness is a stock witness, but the burden should be on the defence to prove that such witness is a stock witness. Further, 3 respondents (1 Judge of a High Court, 1 Police Official and 1 State Government) have opined that the defence may be allowed only if in a given case, circumstances warrant to allow the defence to contend that the witness is a stock witness.

15 respondents (4 Police Officials, 6 State Governments, 1 Judge and 4 others) are of the view that the defence should not be allowed to contend that the prosecution witness who is given anonymity is a stock witness.

2 respondents (1 senior police official and 1 State Government), however, are of the view that the court itself should decide this issue.



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