Media persons at the Supreme Court of India, New Delhi, India. (File Photo)(PTI)
Media persons at the Supreme Court of India, New Delhi, India. (File Photo)(PTI)

Witness protection can curb intimidation by people like Shahabuddin

A witness protection programme and speedier trials will play a crucial role in making the criminal justice system more effective and less susceptible to being undermined
By HT Correspondent | Hindustan Times
UPDATED ON NOV 30, 2016 01:41 AM IST

The course of justice will be subverted if RJD leader Mohammad Shahabuddin remains in the Siwan jail according to the CBI, which wants him shifted to Tihar jail. The Supreme Court is likely to take a call today on whether or not this will be done. Shahabuddin, who faces trial in 45 criminal cases, is considered so powerful that there is real fear that witnesses will be unwilling to testify against him or will be intimidated into silence. He has a notorious squad of supporters who don’t hesitate to threaten witnesses and thereby influence cases against him. Shahabuddin’s writ has run in Siwan even during the time he has been in jail.

Read | ‘Will teach him a lesson’: Shahabuddin back in jail with warning for Nitish

This case, as many others, shows the need for a proper programme to protect witnesses. The long delays between filing cases and them coming to trial leaves the powerful much room to threaten and intimidate witnesses. In fact, on several occasions, witnesses have either been attacked or even killed. The apex court has called for such a programme as it feels that without this, public confidence in the criminal justice system will be shaken. There have often been cases of witnesses turning hostile for no ostensible reason. Though there are perjury laws under which a witness found to be lying during judicial proceedings can get a jail term up to seven years, few people are actually prosecuted under these. Apart from intimidation, witnesses also have been found to change their testimony due to inducements. This was thought to be why some witnesses in the infamous BMW case, who saw the killer car mow down people, later changed their mind and said that the offending vehicle was a speeding truck.

Ganglords and powerful politicians have inspired such fear even among jail officials and the police that imprisonment in no way curtails their businesses or influence. This really underscores the need to shorten the length of judicial proceedings. When cases drag on for years, the possibilities of tampering with both evidence and witness testimonies are much higher, especially in the case of someone with the power and reach of Shahabuddin.

Read | Shahabuddin: The Bahubali behind bars

Witnesses need both police protection and if necessary relocation. One of the reasons why Shahabuddin inspires such terror even while behind bars is the fact that he has political support which serves to intimidate jail officials and the police. The fact that the CBI recommended that he be shifted suggests that it is of the opinion that the system in Bihar is compromised. A witness protection programme and speedier trials will play a crucial role in making the criminal justice system more effective and less susceptible to being undermined.

SHARE THIS ARTICLE ON
Close
As alarm grows over what appears to be the beginning of India’s second Covid-19 wave, the Union government on Wednesday lifted some key restrictions to speed up vaccination and expand the parameters of who is eligible for inoculation (Pratik Chorge/HT Photo)
As alarm grows over what appears to be the beginning of India’s second Covid-19 wave, the Union government on Wednesday lifted some key restrictions to speed up vaccination and expand the parameters of who is eligible for inoculation (Pratik Chorge/HT Photo)

A welcome step on vaccination | HT Editorial

By HT Editorial
PUBLISHED ON FEB 24, 2021 09:10 PM IST
t is important that India leverages its relative success against Covid-19 to equip its citizens in the face of a race against time against a possible second wave. Wednesday’s decision by the Union Cabinet marks a step in the right direction
Close
The critics may be wrong, they may make exaggerated claims, their activism may cause challenges in policy execution, but they enrich democratic discourse (REUTERS)
The critics may be wrong, they may make exaggerated claims, their activism may cause challenges in policy execution, but they enrich democratic discourse (REUTERS)

In defence of personal liberty | HT Editorial

By HT Editorial
PUBLISHED ON FEB 24, 2021 09:10 PM IST
Beyond the particulars of this case, the Delhi sessions court judgment is welcome. It did well in standing up for citizen rights
Close
There are indications that progress at the border will result in a gradual, perhaps even linked, resumption of the economic relationship. But both military and economic imperatives dictate that there shouldn’t be return to the economic status quo — and the future economic relationship must be more equal. (AP)
There are indications that progress at the border will result in a gradual, perhaps even linked, resumption of the economic relationship. But both military and economic imperatives dictate that there shouldn’t be return to the economic status quo — and the future economic relationship must be more equal. (AP)

On China, the trade dilemma

By HT Editorial
UPDATED ON FEB 24, 2021 06:12 AM IST
One key reason the US has struggled to deal with an aggressive China is precisely its economic web of interdependence with China. India must continue to do business with China, but on better terms, without compromising its interests.
Close
The nature of the cyberspace is such that if attackers are able to leverage all or a combination of these weaknesses, they can cause damage that will be far greater than the sum of the parts (Getty Images/iStockphoto)
The nature of the cyberspace is such that if attackers are able to leverage all or a combination of these weaknesses, they can cause damage that will be far greater than the sum of the parts (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Secure India’s digital infrastructure

By HT Editorial
UPDATED ON FEB 24, 2021 06:12 AM IST
These incidents bring into focus problems that independent researchers have flagged for long — inadequate recognition of threats, a digital infra erected without adequate safeguards, endemic lack of awareness of safe practices, and a threat and vulnerability response mechanism that is far from dynamic.
Close
Puducherry Chief Minister V Narayanasamy hands over his resignation letter to Lt Governor Dr Tamilisai Soundararajan after he failed to prove his majority in the assembly, in Puducherry, Feb. 22. (PTI)
Puducherry Chief Minister V Narayanasamy hands over his resignation letter to Lt Governor Dr Tamilisai Soundararajan after he failed to prove his majority in the assembly, in Puducherry, Feb. 22. (PTI)

In Puducherry, a political crisis | HT Editorial

By HT Editorial
PUBLISHED ON FEB 22, 2021 08:39 PM IST
In Puducherry, on Monday, the Congress government, led by chief minister V Narayanasamy, lost power
Close
Last year, the Capital saw its most horrific violence after 36 years (AFP)
Last year, the Capital saw its most horrific violence after 36 years (AFP)

A year on, Delhi riot victims await justice | HT Editorial

By HT Editorial
PUBLISHED ON FEB 22, 2021 08:39 PM IST
There has to be an independent examination of what happened last February and the law will have to take its course without considering political affiliations and victims will have to be provided justice
Close
The migrant crisis, triggered by the lockdown imposed to curb the spread of the pandemic, saw, according to official figures, over 10 million migrant workers returning home. (SANTOSH KUMAR/HTPHOTO)
The migrant crisis, triggered by the lockdown imposed to curb the spread of the pandemic, saw, according to official figures, over 10 million migrant workers returning home. (SANTOSH KUMAR/HTPHOTO)

Providing migrant workers a political voice

By HT Editorial
PUBLISHED ON FEB 21, 2021 06:56 PM IST
The economy has been opening up and many migrant workers have started going back to their jobs, but this issue must not be relegated to the margins. It’s time migrant workers get the respect, protection and rights they are entitled to as citizens.
Close
Democracies must work together to hold big tech firms accountable and preserve the basic building blocks of open, informed societies. India must follow suit. (Getty Images)
Democracies must work together to hold big tech firms accountable and preserve the basic building blocks of open, informed societies. India must follow suit. (Getty Images)

Australia is on the right path

By HT Editorial
UPDATED ON FEB 22, 2021 06:34 AM IST
Australia’s decision to take on big tech firms and adopt a principled stand on the issue is welcome. And so is Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s call to Prime Minister Narendra Modi — where, according to the Australian readout, Mr Morrison spoke of the progress in the media-related legislation
Close
The winter storm in the US is yet another warning. Prepare for extreme scenarios (AP)
The winter storm in the US is yet another warning. Prepare for extreme scenarios (AP)

The rise of freak weather events

By HT Editorial
PUBLISHED ON FEB 19, 2021 06:11 PM IST
The Texas event and other freak climate events across the world — India too has witnessed such incidents in recent years — are a reminder for governments that they must re-evaluate their nation’s utility infrastructure for climate resilience, and invest heavily to upgrade them so that they can quickly adapt and function during freak and extreme weather events
Close
Mr Deb’s comments can be read as a light-hearted joke about the BJP’s tremendous success in recent years at home (PTI)
Mr Deb’s comments can be read as a light-hearted joke about the BJP’s tremendous success in recent years at home (PTI)

The implications of Biplab Deb’s gaffe | HT Editorial

By HT Editorial
UPDATED ON FEB 19, 2021 06:20 AM IST
The lesson for Indian leaders, particularly those occupying constitutional positions, is to be more responsible, recognise boundaries, and know that jokes aren’t always funny
Close
India is also a confident democracy, willing to examine its strengths and weaknesses, and open to learning from the best (Getty Images/iStockphoto)
India is also a confident democracy, willing to examine its strengths and weaknesses, and open to learning from the best (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Engage with the academic world | HT Editorial

By HT Editorial
UPDATED ON FEB 19, 2021 06:19 AM IST
Withdraw restrictive measures on international online conferences. India must not be insecure about free academic exchanges on all subjects.
Close
In the last few months, the government has since substantially restored connectivity, released key regional leaders, including former chief ministers, and held local body elections, which saw the participation of mainstream Kashmiri forces. With this, the government believes that its move to overhaul the constitutional status of J&K is slowly paying dividends. (PTI)
In the last few months, the government has since substantially restored connectivity, released key regional leaders, including former chief ministers, and held local body elections, which saw the participation of mainstream Kashmiri forces. With this, the government believes that its move to overhaul the constitutional status of J&K is slowly paying dividends. (PTI)

In J&K, the unfinished democratic agenda

By HT Editorial
UPDATED ON FEB 18, 2021 06:36 AM IST
Over 20 foreign diplomats are in Jammu and Kashmir (J&K), meeting political and civil society stakeholders and assessing the ground situation in the Union Territory (UT)
Close
An increase in cases in hot spots such as Maharashtra, coupled with the presence of more dangerous variants in the country, generate fears that the pandemic may begin a much-feared second wave. (HT PHOTO)
An increase in cases in hot spots such as Maharashtra, coupled with the presence of more dangerous variants in the country, generate fears that the pandemic may begin a much-feared second wave. (HT PHOTO)

Covid-19: The threat of a second wave

By HT Editorial
UPDATED ON FEB 18, 2021 06:34 AM IST
Complacency now, among governments and people alike, when a vaccine roll-out is underway and cases nationwide are at the lowest level in over eight months, can undo months of progress and sacrifices made in the fight against the disease.
Close
The government has announced radical changes to the country’s mapping policy by liberalising regulations on geospatial data and maps (PTI)
The government has announced radical changes to the country’s mapping policy by liberalising regulations on geospatial data and maps (PTI)

India’s new mapping policy is a good step | HT Editorial

By HT Editorial
PUBLISHED ON FEB 16, 2021 08:15 PM IST
The next generation of mapping technology is coming into its own, and the policy will enable Indian innovators to create substantial advances in mapping domestically, and eventually play a role in the sector globally
Close
It is imperative now that at least a million vaccinations are done in a day, and five million a day by April (Amal KS/HT PHOTO)
It is imperative now that at least a million vaccinations are done in a day, and five million a day by April (Amal KS/HT PHOTO)

Reboot the vaccine strategy | HT Editorial

By HT Editorial
PUBLISHED ON FEB 16, 2021 08:15 PM IST
In the span of a month since it began the coronavirus vaccination drive, India has administered roughly 8
Close
SHARE
Story Saved
OPEN APP