The draft witness protection scheme of the Central government was on Wednesday approved by the Supreme Court. The top court also asked all the states for its implementation till the Parliament comes out with a legislation. A bench headed by Justice AK 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.
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On November 19, Attorney General KK 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 Supreme 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.
The witness protection scheme can be implemented for at least sensitive cases and the MHA could come out with a comprehensive plan, the court had said.
The petitioners, who are witnesses in cases related to Asaram, have sought a probe into the instances of alleged attacks and disappearances of witnesses in these cases.