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  • National
    Witness protection must in criminal justice system: Moily

    New Delhi (PTI): In the backdrop of the Supreme Court supporting a witness protection mechanism, Law Minister M Veerappa Moily on Tuesday said it should be made part of the criminal justice system.

    "In the report on public order, I had mentioned that this (witness protection) is a must and we should mandate this kind of reform in the criminal justice system," Mr. Moily told PTI.

    "The Law ministry will be willing to examine any proposal worked out by the Home ministry," he said.

    The report on public order, submitted in 2007, called for statutory programme for guaranteeing anonymity of witnesses and for witness protection in specified cases. It also called for penalties for those found guilty of perjury after a summary trial.

    In a recent observation, the apex court said "in cases involving influential people, the common experience is that witnesses do not come forward because of fear and pressure... (it) depicts a tremendous need for witness protection in our country if criminal justice administration has to be a reality."

    The observation came during a recent judgement relating to an 11-year-old incident in Chhattisgarh where an influential politician's son crushed a girl under the wheels of his vehicle.

    The need for such a mechanism has been felt for some time and it became a matter of public debate after the trial court's acquittal of all accused in the Jessica Lall murder case.

    Soon after the trial court acquittal, UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi had said that witness protection should be put in place.

    In January 2007, while terming the concept of witness protection as a noble idea, the Supreme Court had said it was practically impossible to have a blanket order to provide security to every witness, considering the vast population of the country and over three crore cases pending with the judiciary.


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