Court directs protection, counselling to witness

New Delhi: A girl, a crucial witness to her brother`s murder, has been ordered by a Delhi court to be given police protection and professional counselling to tide over her dilemma whether to depose in the case against her family members` wishes.

Additional Sessions Judge Rakesh Tewari ordered police protection and professional counselling for 21-year-old Neelam after she began crying in the witness box, saying her family members, including her mother, do not want her to depose.

At this, ASJ Tewari summoned the SHO of Sultan Puri police station and directed him to "not only take the protection measures of the witness (Neelam) but also get her counselled for her dilemma and fear against her own family members."

As Neelam began crying in the witness box, the judge asked her as to why was she crying. As the judge consoled her, she uttered that she wanted to depose against the accused but was being stopped by her mother and a cousin. She also apprehended legal action against her mother now that she had disclosed she was stopping her from deposing in the matter.

Observing that she was under a dilemma whether to depose truthfully or succumb to the pressure from her family, the court said, "Even after her deposition till the pendency of this case, a periodical visit to her house by any responsible police official, not below the rank of SI, and preferably by the SHO himself, be given so as to ensure protection in her mind and confidence in her day-to-day life."

"On the dates when she may be coming to the court either for her examination-in-chief or cross examination, she may be escorted not only by female police officials but also by male police officials and certain mobile phone or other device should be provided to her at her residence so that in case of any emergency, she may seek police assistance," the ASJ said.

The court also said in view of her fears, "the accused, who are present in judicial custody in the court, are directed to be seated at the backseats of the court premises."

Neelam had also told the court she was suffering from a neuro-ailment for which she was undergoing treatment at a mental health institute at West Delhi. Neelam is a crucial witness in the killing of her brother in 2009.

As per prosecution case, about three years back, when Neelam, along with her mother, was standing outside their house in Sultanpuri, accused Sudhir and Sunil were passing by and made some obscene gestures at her upon which her mother asked them to behave.

At this, her brother Subhash came out and picked up an argument with the accused, who left the spot on to return shortly, armed with baseball bat, iron rod, glass bottles and knives and started beating her brother, who was later rushed to the hospital and was declared dead there.