Report No. 198
(Q) 2 Apart from the change of identity, should other measures for the protection of witnesses be also provided. For example,
(a) mention in the proceeding of an address different from one he uses or which does not coincide with the domicile location provided by the civil law;
(b) being granted a transportation in a State vehicle for purposes of intervention in the procedural act;
(c) being granted a room, eventually put under surveillance and security located in the court or the police premises;
(d) benefiting from police protection extended to his relatives or other persons in close contact with him;
(e) benefiting from inmate regimen which allow him to remain isolated from others and to be transported in a separate vehicle;
(f) delivery of documents officially issued;
(g) changes in the physiognomy or the body of the beneficiary;
(h) granting of a new place to live in the country or abroad, for a period to be determined;
(i) free transportation of the beneficiary, his close relatives and the respective property, to the new place of living;
(j) implementation of conditions for the obtaining of means of maintenance;
(k) granting of a survival allowance for a specific period of time.
Apart from the change of identity, there are many other measures, which may be provided in the Witness Protection Programme. These measures (eleven in number) are mentioned in the question. Now question is, whether all or any of these measures should be included in our Witness Protection Programme?
Most of the respondents (39 out of 41) have opined that apart from the change of identity, other measures should also be included in Witness Protection Programme. Among these 39 respondents (10 State Governments, 9 Police Officers, 3 Judges and 17 others) 27 are of the view that all 11 measures (a to k) suggested in the question should be included in the Programme, while 12 respondents are of the view that some of these measures be included.
Justice Ch. S.R.K. Prasad, Judge, A.P. High Court has opined that all these things can be provided at the State expenses, but it should be extended to grave offences only, which are punishable with 10 years imprisonment or more.
The State Government of Jharkhand is not in favour of extending benefit of changes in physiognomy or the body of beneficiary.
The State Government of Punjab has suggested that whenever an order for witness protection by changing his place of residence or facial identity of the witness is made, then it has to be ensured first, that such person does nor have any civil or criminal litigation. If there is any such matter, then some how it be disposed off before such protection is given otherwise whole purpose shall be frustrated.
Special Commissioner of Police, New Delhi has suggested that these suggested measures requires big infrastructure to implement them. These infrastructures should be in place before we go for it.
Punjab State Law Commission is of the view that ordinarily change of identity may be sufficient for the protection of witness but in a given case, the court may provide any of the protection enumerated in the question, depending upon the facts and circumstances of each case.
Shri Venkat Bedre, Advocate and Member Maharashtra State Law Commission has opined that all these schemes are too expensive, therefore, it is to be provided only in organized crimes against the State or society.
I.G. Police H.Q. of Assam is of the view that only change of identity is sufficient.
Shri Vepa P. Sarathi has stated that every one of the suggestions is impractical in our country.