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Draft of witness protection policy ready, govt tells HC

delhi Updated: Nov 21, 2013 01:03 IST
Soibam Rocky Singh
Delhi Witness Protection Policy

The Delhi government on Wednesday told the Delhi High Court that the draft of Delhi Witness Protection Policy (DWPP), 2013 - which sets out guidelines for the protection and safety of witnesses — was ready and would be placed before the Cabinet after the formation of the new government.

Additional home secretary, Delhi, GP Singh submitted this affidavit before a division bench of Chief Justice NV Ramana and Justice Manmohan on a PIL to put in place a protection policy to ensure that witnesses were not harassed or intimidated by accused in criminal cases.

As per the draft policy, a witness seeking protection can approach the Delhi State Legal Service Authority, which will take a decision depending upon the urgency and seriousness of the issue.

Apart from categorising witnesses in three sections as per the ‘threat perception', the draft primarily laid emphasis on the protection of their identities.

The draft of Delhi Witness Protection Policy also states that it will be the responsibility of the divisional commissioner, Delhi Witness Protection Cell, to ensure that the identity of the witness is protected.

"The competent authority, division commissioner, Delhi Witness Protection Cell's officials, SHOs, investigating officers, and lawyers from both sides shall maintain full confidentiality," the draft says.

It will be mandatory for the investigating officer and court to inform witness about the existence of the witness protection scheme and its salient features.

The affidavit said that there would be a separate fund, namely the witness protection fund, which will take care of the expenses incurred during the implementation of the protection scheme.

Once the Cabinet approves the scheme, it will be submitted to the Lieutenant General for approval. Earlier, on May 22, the high court had directed the Delhi government to frame the witness protection policy after actor Shayan Munshi and a ballistic expert, turned hostile in the Jessica Lall murder case.