The Bombay high court on Tuesday directed the Maharashtra government to frame a new law within six months for protection of witnesses and also consider bringing whistleblowers and RTI activists under its purview.
The government had last week informed the HC that instead of a policy, it would come out with a law to provide protection to witnesses in sensitive cases. A draft of the proposed law was also submitted to the court.
The issue of protection to witnesses, whistleblowers and activists was taken up suo moto (on its own) by the court after the murder of RTI activist Satish Shetty.
The court was today informed that a committee has been formed to look into the issue and a law for the protection of witnesses would be enacted soon.
Amicus curie (appointed to assist the court) Dinyar Madon, however, submitted that the new Maharashtra Witness Protection Act will not provide protection to whistleblowers and activists and may give cover only to witnesses in sensitive cases.
A division bench of justice AS Oka and justice AK Menon then asked the government to consider including whistleblowers and activists also under the purview of new law.
The court directed the government to enact the new law within six months.
In October 2014, the high court, while ordering the government to frame a fresh policy, had also directed that protection should be provided immediately to whistleblowers and witnesses even during the investigation stage, if such a person makes a request for protection.