MADURAI: The Union Ministry of Home Affairs, on Thursday submitted in the Madras High Court bench here that it would draft a Bill to provide protection for witnesses in criminal cases after consulting all States and Union Territories.
A counter affidavit filed by the Under Secretary (Home Affairs) said that the Law Commission of India had submitted a comprehensive report regarding protection of witnesses in 2006 and the same was tabled in the Parliament the following year.
Since the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPc) is a subject falling under the Concurrent List, the Law Commission’s recommendations were forwarded to all States and Union Territories. While Gujarat, Odisha and West Bengal have submitted their views, the other States were issued a reminder on July 7 to write in their views.
Based on the States’ feedback, the Centre would decide whether a standalone legislation needs to be enacted for this purpose or it could be done through amendments to the CrPc and Indian Penal Code.
The Ordinance for Amendment of the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, provides for protection of witnesses in cases involving attacks on Scheduled Castes/Tribes people.
In a separate counter affidavit, the Tamil Nadu Police submitted that it was more concerned about the decline in the rate of conviction in criminal cases and the increased acquittal due to absence of protection to witnesses. There were also cases of witnesses turning hostile due to threat or coercion from the accused. The police said that in cases such as rape, murder and abductions, they provided protection to witnesses till the trial was over.But, there are cases of witnesses being attacked by the accused when they are out of jail. In such cases, protection could be granted.