"Witnesses are the eyes and ears of the justice system and failure of the state to protect the state fails to uphold the national motto – Satyamev Jayate."Critically examine the feasibility and issues towards a separate witness protection law in India.

In any case Witnesses are the eyes and ears of the justice as they play a very important role in ensuring an effective investigation of criminal proceedings. Therefore protecting witness is the utmost important to deliver justice. Due to this most of the countries around the world had laid witness protection laws where the local police provide some type of protection whenever witness is needed. But in India there is no separate witness protection law exclusively but some degree of protection is provided to witness in some special cases like Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act and the Prevention of Terrorism Act and also in high profile cases like communal riots.
Some of the issues towards a separate witness protection law in India are:

  • Under seventh schedule of the constitution, Police and public order are state subjects but criminal law and criminal procedure are under concurrent list. Therefore it is difficult to frame uniform law as state governments are also responsible for witness protection. 
  • Programs like witness protection requires huge expenditure most of states are reluctant to spend their expenditure on such things.
  • Due to delay in cases it is difficult to provide protection to witness for longer periods. This can be avoided by listing of the cases in such a way that the witnesses who are summoned are examined on the day they are summoned and adjournments should be avoided
  • Another issue is, apart from witness, his/her family member are also facing threat form criminals. In such situations it is difficult to provide protection by convincing his/her. 
  • It is difficult to Implement such type of laws in over populated countries like India because it is not viable for provide protection to witness in every case registered.

As more number of cases are registering every day it is difficult to categorize which case requires witness protection.  

Question for UPSC Mains:
“Witnesses are the eyes and ears of the justice system and failure of the state to protect the state fails to uphold the national motto – Satyamev Jayate.” Critically examine the feasibility and issues towards a separate witness protection law in India.

Published: November 21, 2017 | Modified:June 27, 2019

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