Report No. 198
(3) The question is whether the anonymity provisions which were till recently confined to TADA and POTA (terrorist cases) and now to trials under the Unlawful Activities Act, 1967 (as amended in 2004) should be extended to trials of all other serious offences triable by Sessions Courts (or Court equivalent thereto) provided the conditions required for granting anonymity are satisfied?
We have dealt with this aspect elaborately in Chapter V of this Report. In our view, in all cases triable by Courts of Session and Courts of equal designation or Special Courts, wherever there is proof of danger to the life or property of the witness or of his or her relatives, witness protection must be available. It is not necessary that witness protection be confined only to cases of terrorism and sexual offences.
While the class of cases where anonymity will be given will be those triable by Courts of Sessions, it will be a matter for decision in each case, having regard to the nature of the offence and the facts of the case. Even in the case of an individual trial, it has to be extended only to prosecution witnesses in respect of whom there is adequate proof of danger to the life or property of the witnesses or of their close relatives. In other words, the case of each prosecution witness in respect of whom application is made, has to be separately taken up and decided. In fact, it is witness specific in all cases triable by Courts of Session.
The witness identity protection is a must in all cases triable by Sessions Court where there is danger to the witnesses to his properties or to whose of his close relatives. So far other cases are concerned, we further recommend that after the experience in cases triable by Sessions Courts, the Government may consider extending the procedure to other cases as well by appropriate statutory provisions.