A Delhi court on Wednesday directed the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to ensure that witnesses who had sought security and livelihood appear in a "fearless" atmosphere to depose before it in a 1984 anti-Sikh riots case related to Congress leader Sajjan Kumar.
District judge JR Aryan, who did not direct the government to provide them security so that they can give "uninfluenced and unbiased" testimony, also asked the investigating officer of the case to give his mobile number to the witnesses so that they could inform him about any kind of incident to hamper their free state of mind while giving evidence.
"... but still considering this submission made by counsel HS Phoolka, the investigating officer (IO) is directed to ensure that witnesses are provided confidence to appear in a fearless atmosphere in court," the judge said.
The court, however, said senior advocate Phoolka, who filed the application on behalf of the witnesses, had failed to mention any specific instance of threat given to them.
Aggrieved with the court's order, Phoolka said they would challenge it in the high court as these witnesses were poor and vulnerable and needed regular protection.
"The court is about to start recording the statements of witnesses and this one month is very crucial. Most of the witnesses are earning their livelihood by cleaning utensils in houses of people and by doing other odd jobs. The government can spend crores of rupees on the security of the accused but it cannot spend a few lakhs on the protection of witnesses," he said.
The plea said the Supreme Court as well as the Law Commission of India had more than once mentioned about the witness protection programme and emphasised its importance.