SC seeks reply of all states on Witness Protection Programmeindia Updated: Sep 08, 2017 18:24 IST
The apex court has asked the petitioners, who are witnesses in case related to Asaram, to implead all the states as party on the issue of witness protection programme.(PTI File Photo)
The Supreme Court has expanded the ambit of a PIL seeking protection for witnesses in rape cases involving self-styled preacher Asaram Bapu and sought replies from all states on implementation of the witness protection programme.
The apex court has asked the petitioners, who are witnesses in case related to Asaram, to implead all the states as party on the issue of witness protection programme.
It has questioned why till now, the states have not formulated any witness protection programme.
The court’s direction came in the wake of the petitioners seeking investigation into the instances of attacks and disappearances of witnesses in cases against Asaram.
“Since in this petition, the Court is primarily dealing with the issue pertaining to witness protection programme, it would be appropriate to issue notice to all other States as well.
“The petitioners shall implead other States also as parties and notice shall be served upon them, returnable in four weeks,” a bench of Justices AK Sikri and Ashok Bhushan said.
The apex court also granted the last opportunity to Uttar Pradesh and Gujarat, who are already party in the case, to file their replies in four weeks to a plea of four key witnesses in a rape case of minors allegedly involving Asaram Bapu, being tried in Jodhpur.
Advocate Utsav Singh Bains, appearing for the four witnesses, said that states should formulate a programme for the protection of witnesses.
He had sought a SIT probe into the instances of attacks and disappearances of the witnesses in cases against Asaram and pleaded for expeditious framing of the national witness protection guidelines.
The apex court had on March 24 questioned Haryana and Uttar Pradesh over the implementation of the witness protection schemes till now and directed them to provide security cover to the witnesses in rape cases against Asaram.
It had asked Uttar Pradesh and Haryana to provide security to the witnesses residing in their jurisdictions. While UP has three such witnesses, Haryana has one.
On November 18 last year, the apex court had asked the Centre and the states to reply to the pleas by witnesses in cases against Asaram, seeking protection.
The four petitioners who have filed the plea are - Mahinder Chawla, a witness in a rape case allegedly involving Asaram, Naresh Gupta, the father of a murdered witness, Karamvir Singh, the father of a child rape victim and Narender Yadav, a journalist who allegedly escaped a murder attempt.
“A very dangerous scenario has emerged which attacks the heart of our constitutional rights and freedoms, where the rich and powerful accused openly subvert the rule of law and pollute the streams of justice by murdering, attacking and threatening witnesses with impunity.
“Recently several witnesses in the Asaram Bapu and Narayan Sai rape cases were killed, attacked or went missing under mysterious circumstances,” their plea said.
The petitioners also sought directions from the court to the Centre and states protection by the central forces to the witnesses who have been attacked.