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HindustanTimes Sat,23 Aug 2014

HC refers witness protection plea to legal services authority

PTI  New Delhi, September 18, 2013
First Published: 18:46 IST(18/9/2013) | Last Updated: 19:29 IST(18/9/2013)

The Delhi high court on Wednesday referred to the Delhi Legal Services Authority (DLSA) a public interest litigation (PIL) seeking directions to provide protection to witnesses in 1984 anti-Sikh riot cases allegedly involving senior Congress leader Sajjan Kumar.

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A bench of chief justice NV Ramana and justice Pradeep Nandrajog asked petitioner's counsel HS Phoolka to approach the DLSA secretary, the nodal officer appointed by the high court earlier in a similar matter, till the enactment of the new legislation on the issue, on September 24.

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Wednesday filed its status report before the court, saying that only three witnesses had expressed their apprehension of threat.

Appearing for the CBI, counsel DP Singh submitted that the agency had contacted nine witnesses but only three had expressed threat perception.

The bench had earlier sought the CBI's status report on a PIL filed by November 1984 Carnage Justice Committee for a direction to the Delhi and Punjab governments to provide security to witnesses during the pendency of cases before the trial court.

Citing a list of witnesses in two riot cases, the PIL said "despite various judgments and orders passed by various courts, including the high court, and the apex court to the effect that the witnesses should not be allowed to come under pressure of the accused and that it is the duty of the government to provide adequate protection to the witnesses, the respondents have failed to abide by the same."

According to the plea, the witnesses are not only scared but also under constant threat to their life and would lose their odd jobs.

It referred to a recent judgment on the witness protection issue in Jessica Lall murder case and said the Delhi high court had directed the government to frame a witness protection policy, but nothing had been done so far.

As per the PIL, the Punjab government had earlier provided security to the witnesses on the CBI's request in the cases, but later it was withdrawn.

The plea further said that on the plea of witnesses, the trial court had in July directed the investigating officer (IO) to provide his phone number to the witnesses but not directed the government to provide security to them.

Former Delhi MP Sajjan Kumar, along with five others   Balwan Khokkar, Kishan Khokkar, Mahender Yadav, Girdhari Lal and Captain Bhagmal   are facing trial for allegedly inciting a mob against the Sikh community in Delhi Cantonment area here.

The case relates to anti-Sikh riots that had broken out after the assassination of then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi on October 31, 1984.

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