Report No. 198
(Q) 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 court be held in camera?
In the responses, 33 out of 40 were of the view that a senior police officer like the Superintendent of Police/Commissioner of Police should be empowered to certify about the need for protection and 15 of them further stated that the decision of the Police Officer must be reviewed by a Judge.
First, the police must be satisfied that a victim or a witness's life is "likely" to be in serious danger. Such a decision must be taken by a senior police officer of the rank of Superintendent of Police/Commissioner of Police and he must, after recording his reasons for coming to such a conclusion, certify about his satisfaction. But, this alone, without a further order of Court, is not sufficient.
The police or the public prosecutor must then move the Court of the concerned Magistrate who may examine the certification and material on which the certificate is based and pass a judicial order. Such a procedure before a Magistrate must take place in camera. In that inquiry, there is no need to hear the suspect or the accused.
The Magistrate must also decide whether the witness should not merely be granted a different identity but whether, any other measures are required in the case like relocation, financial assistance etc. as stated earlier.