The Supreme Court on Monday sought replies from Haryana, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat government over the PIL on the National Witness Protection programme initiative. The apex court sought the replies within six weeks. A bench of the apex court headed by Justice Arjan Kumar Sikri and also comprising Justice Ashok Bhushan was hearing the PIL filed by several witnesses in the Asaram Bapu Rape Case. The apex court had earlier observed that “It’s high time we have a witness protection program”.
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. Advocate Utsav Singh Bains appearing for four witnesses in the case 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.
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. The witnesses had also demanded their protection. 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.