Tribune News Service
Chandigarh, October 2
Haryana Government notified its new witness protection scheme on Friday that aims at complete security to witnesses in criminal cases as well as their immediate family.
Called the ‘Haryana Witness Protection Scheme, 2020’, the new institutional mechanism aims at ensuring free and fair trial and offers to protect, even change, the identity of witnesses as well as relocate them to anonymous location until trial’s complete.
Such protection will be on the basis of an order passed by a competent authority headed by the district and sessions judge on the basis of ‘threat analysis reports’ that district police heads submit to them.
A Witness Protection Cell headed by the DCPs or SPs at the district level and the ADGP (Law and Order) at the state headquarters will have to implement the order.
The new programme categorises witnesses into three based on threat perception: the first one covers witnesses whose own lives or the lives of the families will be affected during investigation, during the course of the trial and after it.
The second category is made up of cases where there is a threat to witnesses’ own reputation or property or that of their family.
The third category comprises witnesses who face intimidation and harassment.
Other safeguards include ensuring that witnesses do not meet suspects in the case during the course of investigation, installing security features such as close circuit cameras, alarms and security doors in their homes, police escort to and from courtooms, in-camera trials, using special witness courtrooms, expediting deposition during trial, monitoring emails and phone calls of witnesses.
What the scheme says
—Protecting identity of witnesses, including a temporary change of name and address.
— Categorisation of witnesses
—Ensuring that witnesses do come face-to-face with suspects during investigation
—Installing cameras, alarms and security doors in witnesses homes
—Special witness court rooms
—Monitoring emails and phone calls