All states would be directed to implement the draft witness protection scheme framed by the Centre in consultation with the National Legal Services Authority (NALSA), the Supreme Court said on Monday. The issue of witness protection scheme had cropped up earlier when the top court was hearing a PIL seeking protection for witnesses in rape cases, involving self-styled preacher Asaram Bapu.
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, Attorney General KK Venugopal told a bench of justices AK Sikri and S Abdul Nazeer.
"We will pass an order. We will give directions to all the states to start implementing it (scheme)," the bench told Venugopal.
During the hearing on Monday, advocate Gaurav Agrawal told the bench that the government has finalised the draft witness protection scheme after discussing it with all the states, as he assisted the court as an amicus curiae in the matter.
"Based on the inputs received from majority of the states, a draft witness protection scheme is finalised in consultation with the NALSA," Agrawal told the court.
He said that the scheme has three categories of witnesses based on the threat perception, and the states should start enforcing it.
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.