BHUBANESWAR: Odisha Crime Branch issued a circular to all SPs and DCPs asking them to provide safety and security to the witnesses as they were performing their statutory public duty by assisting courts in providing justice to the victims and punishing the guilty. As per the advisory, police protection should be provided to witnesses if there are any threats to their lives. Besides this, if required, police should provide assistance and logistic support to the witnesses during trials in courts.
The circular has also instructed police officers that when victims are witnesses, an interaction between them and the accused should be avoided. The police officers have been instructed to arrange separate transportation for the victims and accused while taking them for medical examinations. The medical examinations should also be conducted separately and at different time. For the safety and security of the victims, police personnel should be deployed for their protection.
Crime Branch has also emphasised on setting up counselling centres and rest sheds for witnesses. To encourage witnesses to come forward, awareness programmes should be organised for urging them to depose before the courts without any favour and fear. The witnesses should also be sensitised for seeking police help when necessary.The agency has also suggested examining the witnesses through video conferencing as permissible under the law for saving time of people giving testimonies. In sensational cases, courts can be approached for imposing conditions on the accused for not threatening and terrorising the witnesses while they are out on bail.
Investigating officers of sensitive cases should be advised for sensitising the witnesses to remain vigilant and to inform local police if they face any hurdles while providing evidences in the courts. Crime Branch has also directed to constitute a dedicated team of police officers at district levels for monitoring day-to-day court proceedings in criminal cases. The agency has directed police to book the accused under Section 195 (A) of IPC when they are found threatening the witnesses to give fabricated evidences in courts.
“There was a conference where the public prosecutors requested police for providing protection to witnesses as some of them were being threatened by the criminals and the accused, following which a circular was issued in this regard,” Crime Branch ADG Santosh Upadhyay told The Express. Crime Branch recently felicitated some public prosecutors for their outstanding work.