The Supreme Court has asked trial courts hearing criminal cases against sitting and former legislators to consider providing protection to witnesses under the Witness Protection Scheme, 2018 even without making any specific application for the same, keeping in mind their vulnerability.
“The Witness Protection Scheme, 2018, approved by this Court in the case of Mahender Chawla v. Union of India, (2019) 14 SCC 615 should be strictly enforced by the Union and States and Union Territories. Keeping in mind the vulnerability of the witnesses in such cases, the Trial Court may consider granting protection under the said Scheme to witnesses without their making any specific application in this regard,” a bench of Justices N V Ramana, Surya Kant and Aniruddha Bose ordered. The bench is seized of a petition by Advocate Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay seeking fast-tracking of cases involving MPs and MLAs and a ban on those convicted from fighting elections.
Senior Advocate Vijay Hansaria, who is Amicus Curiae in the matter, had earlier told the bench that one of the reasons for delay of these cases was stay granted by the higher courts.
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