Report No. 198
Questionnair.- Discussion of Response.- Recommendations
We have analysed the responses to the 14 Questions dealing with Witness Protection Programmes in the Questionnaire extensively in our Summary in Chapter XI. In this chapter we propose to discuss the responses and give our recommendations.
(1) The question is whether Witness Protection Programmes should be established to protect witnesses outside Court.
As stated in the last Chapter, almost all those who responded, (except two) supported the introduction of Witness Protection Programmes. Some of the respondents suggested that while all those measures which are in force in other countries are not feasible in our country, at least some of the important measures could be introduced. At any rate, the programmes must be confined to cases of 'serious' offences, it was suggested.
In our view, Witness Protection Programmes are necessary in our country and may be limited to cases of 'serious' offences and must apply to victims and prosecution witnesses alike. They can be confined, in our view, to cases triable by Sessions Courts or Courts of equal rank and Special Courts where, witness protection outside the Court is felt necessary. Such a determination must be made in the Court of a Magistrate on an application by the investigation agency or the public prosecutor. It is obvious that Witness Protection Programmes require finances and unless the Central/State Governments come forward to meet the expenditure, the programmes cannot be introduced.
Of course, only if identity protection is given and not other types of protection (referred to in Question 2) expenditure may be listed.
We have stated in para 7.7.5 of the Consultation Paper that in USA, after the introduction of the programmes, "it has obtained an overall conviction rate of 89% as a result of protected witness's testimony". If the Union and State Governments want better conviction rates, they must come forward and allocate the necessary finances for Witness Protection Programmes.