SC approves Centre’s draft witness protection scheme

New Delhi: The Supreme Court Wednesday approved the Centre’s draft witness protection scheme and asked all the states to implement it till the Parliament comes out with a legislation.

A bench headed by Justice A K Sikri said that they have made some changes in the scheme.

The issue of witness protection scheme had cropped up earlier when the top court was hearing a public interest litigation (PIL) seeking protection for witnesses in rape cases involving self-styled preacher Asaram Bapu.

During the hearing on November 19, Attorney General K K Venugopal had told the apex court that the draft scheme, which has now been finalised, would be made into a law “in due course”, but till then the court should direct the states to start implementing it.

The top court was also told by advocate Gaurav Agrawal, who is assisting the court as an amicus curiae in the matter, that the government has finalised the draft witness protection scheme after discussing it with all the states.

The draft witness protection scheme, finalised in consultation with the National Legal Services Authority (NALSA), has three categories of witnesses based on the threat perception.

In April this year, the Centre had informed the top court that it had framed a draft witness protection scheme and it was circulated among the states and Union Territories administration for comments.

The court had asked the Centre to finalise the scheme after getting response from the states and Union Territories.