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Home > News > Report

No protection for witnesses in criminal cases: SC

January 22, 2007 13:57 IST

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The Supreme Court made it clear on Monday that protection cannot be provided to witnesses appearing in criminal cases as it is not 'physically possible' for police to grant protection to the thousands coming to courts on a daily basis.

A bench comprising Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan and Justice D K Jain granted six-weeks' time to the union government for filing details of the proposed amendment in the Criminal Procedure Code by adding Section 164(A), in which a statement made before a magistrate cannot be retracted.

It also includes the number of judges the government proposes to increase to handle the extra burden of recording statements of witnesses by the magistrates and for suggesting ways in which a witness in a deserving case can be provided protection if he or she feels a possible threat.

The court also made it clear that 'the government cannot be asked to provide protection to all the witnesses and that no police force can provide a blanket protection'.

The counsel for the petitioner Country First, an organisation, suggested that the powers be given to the public prosecutor and the trial judge to order protection for a witness if the witness asks for it and if the court is convinced that the protection is necessary.

Additional Solictor General Gopal Subramaniam, appearing for the union government, said there cannot be blanket legislation for providing protection to witnesses.

The court also pointed out that the magistrates and the lower judiciary in the country are already overburdened and without augumenting the judicial strength, the problem cannot be tackled.