The Delhi government on Thursday notified its witness protection programme. Called the Delhi Witness Protection Scheme 2015, it lays down steps to protect the identity of witnesses.
Among the steps suggested are prohibiting the publication or revealing, in any manner, directly or indirectly, the name, address and other particulars which may lead to the identification of a witness; changing the identity of a witness; relocating the person, facility for in-camera proceedings and ‘live link’, in which a witness can depose without coming to court.
Other measures to protect witnesses will include taking steps so that an accused is not able to confront the witness or monitor the person’s calls and mails and changing the phone number of the witness or providing him or her with an unlisted number.
Installing security devices at the person’s home, guarding the person’s residence, providing escort vehicles to the witness will be some of the other measures for protection.
A member secretary or the Officer on Special Duty (OSD) of the Delhi State Legal Services Authority (DLSA) will be the competent authority to approve who can be accorded protection under the programme.
State Home Minister Satyendra Jain said Delhi was the first state to notify the scheme and that it would serve as an example for others. “We have notified it and it will set an example for other states,” he said.
Asked whether the government’s standoff with the Delhi Police would affect the programme, Jain said, “The scheme will be under the DLSA. And once a court passes an order, police will have to abide by it.”
Sources said a police officer of the rank of assistant commissioner or deputy commissioner will prepare a report on the threat being faced by a witness offered protection under the programme.
Depending on the threat, there will be three categories of witnesses. These will include Category A: Witness and family members face threat to life during investigation or after that; Category B: Threat to safety, reputation or property of the witness or his family during investigation; and Category C: Threats of moderate nature and harassment.
The government has established a witness protection cell under the Delhi Police, which will be headed by an assistant commissioner of police (ACP) or deputy commissioner of police (DCP).
There will be a witness protection fund, which will get funds from budgetary alllocations, fines deposited in court and donations or contributions from institutions and individuals.
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