Odisha government implements Center’s Witness Protection Scheme (WPS)

The Naveen Patnaik led Odisha Government has recently informed the state High Court that it has implemented the Central Government’s Witness Protection Scheme-2018. The aim of the scheme is to ensure that investigation, prosecution and trial of criminal offences are not prejudiced because witnesses are intimidated or frightened to give evidence without protection from other criminal forces. According to the state government’s notification, the scheme includes three categories of witnesses as per threat perception. Category A consists of those cases where threat extends to the life of witness or family members during an investigation, trial or thereafter. Cases where the threat extends to safety, reputation or property of the witness or family members during the investigation or trial falls under category B. Category C will have cases where the threat is moderate and extends to harassment or intimidation of the witness or family members, reputation or property during investigation, trial or thereafter. The important features of the scheme include protective measures like ensuring that the witness and accused do not come face to face during probe, protection and change of identity, relocation of witness, confidentiality and preservation of records and recovery of expenses among others.

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