The Madras High Court (Madurai Bench) has held that it is the duty of the police to protect prosecution witnesses during the trial in criminal cases such as murder. Justice R Subbiah gave the direction while hearing a petition seeking protection filed by a prosecution witness in a murder case in which former Tamil Nadu Sports Minister Inbathamilan and his brothers have been cited as accused.
The petitioner Sundari, a former chairperson of the Srivilliputhur Municipality, said that her husband Annadurai Selvan was killed by a gang in 2007 due to political rivalry. Of the 10 persons arraigned in the case were four influential siblings - the former Minister Inbathamilan, Veeraselvam, Aanalagan and Thangamangani.
According to her, the accused were influencing prosecution witnesses to turn hostile. The witnesses felt intimidated as the former Minister influenced police officers.
Likewise, Aanalagan was practicing as an advocate in Srivilliputhur and Thangamangani was a local councillor. The Srivilliputhur police failed to give necessary protection to the intimidated witnesses.
She pointed out that earlier acting on her petition seeking a fair trial, the High Court has transferred the trial proceedings in the case from Srivilliputhur to Madurai. But this measure alone has not helped win the confidence of the witnesses as they were all residents of Srivilliputhur where the accused had influence.
Hence, she sought a direction to the Virudhunagar Superintendent of Police to give protection to the witnesses.
Justice Subbiah, who heard the petition, directed the Superintendent of Police to depute a competent Deputy SP to look after the proceedings of the murder case and provide protection to the witnesses.