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Report No. 198

(B) Witness Protection Programme

(1) Do you support the view that a Witness Protection Programme should be established to protect the safety, welfare and the interests of the witnesses? Such Programmes are already in existence in various countries like Australia, Canada, South Africa, Portugal, Netherlands, Philippines, New Zealand.

(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 the 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.

(3) Who among the following should be made in-charge of the implementation of the entire Witness Protection Programme:

(a) Judicial Officer (b) Police Officer

(c) Government Department

(d) Autonomous body

(4) Should apart from prosecution witness, a defence witness be also eligible to be admitted into the Witness Protection Programme, if danger to his life or property exists due to his being a witness?

(5) Should the Superintendent of Police/Commissioner of Police be empowered to certify whether a particular person or victim or witness is in danger and entitled to be admitted to the Witness Protection Programme? Should such certificate be further reviewed by the trial Judge before making an order of witness protection? Should such proceedings in the court be held in camera?

(6) Whether protection under the Programme should also be extended to the family members, close relatives and friends of the threatened witness. If so, who should be included in the list of such persons?

(7) Should necessary funds be provided by both the Central and State Governments for implementation of the Witness Protection Programme?

(8) Should a witness who is being admitted into the Programme be required to enter into a memorandum of understanding with the incharge of the Programme setting out his rights, obligations, restrictions as well as of the person in-charge of the Programme? What are the means of enforcing such rights and obligations?

(9) When the identity of a person is changed, and he later becomes a party as plaintiff or defendant or a witness in any other civil proceedings, then should such proceeding be allowed to be suspected temporarily and be subject to the order of the Court regarding institution, trial or judgment in such proceedings?

(10) When the identity of a person is changed, and he is an accused or a witness in any other criminal proceeding under his former identity, should the person in-charge of Protection Programme be authorized to disclose his identity to the prosecutor, judge of magistrate and or to defence lawyer in such cases?

(11) Should a person be held liable to punishment if he discloses the identity of any protected person without the authorization of the Court that granted the protection? If so, what punishment should be prescribed?

(12) Do you support the view that where a witness who is admitted to the Programme fails or refuses to testify without any just cause, he should be prosecuted for contempt of Court and the protection order be cancelled?

(13) Should the decision either admitting or refusing to admit a person to the Witness Protection Programme, be made appealable? To avoid delays, should such appeal lie directly to the High Court?

(14) Do you have any other suggestions in respect of Witness Protection Programme?

Justice M. Jagannadha Rao

Dr. K.N. Chaturvedi


Dated: 13th August, 2004

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