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“Ms. Neelam Katara Vs. Union of India & Ors., Crl. W. No. 247/2002 (High Court of Delhi)”

Hon’ble High Court of Delhi has nominated Member Secretary, Delhi State Legal Services Authority as competent Authority to provide protection to the witness for crime is punishable with capital punishment and life imprisonment.

In the order dated 14.10.2003 in paragraph 15, Hon’ble Court has stated that ”Till a suitable Legislation is brought on the Statute book, we direct that following guidelines shall operate for protection of the witnesses.

In paragraph 16, Hon’ble Court has stated that:-
These guidelines shall be known as Witness Protection Guidelines
Witness means a person whose statement has been recorded by the Investigating Officer under Section 161 Cr.P.C. pertaining to a crime punishable with death or life imprisonment.
Accused means a person charged with or suspected with the commission of a crime punishable with death or life imprisonment.
Competent Authority means the Member Secretary, Delhi Legal Services Authority.

ADMISSION TO PROTECTION:
The competent Authority, on receipt of a request from a witness shall determine whether the witness requires police protection, to what extent and for what duration.

FACTOR TO BE CONSIDERED:
In determining whether or not a witness should be provided police protection, Competent Authority shall take into account the following factors:

  1. The nature of the risk to the security of the witness which may emanate from the accused or his associates.
  2. The nature of the investigation or the criminal case.
  3. The importance of the witness in the matter and the value of the information or evidence given or agreed to be given by the witness.
  4. The cost of providing police protection to the witness.

OBLIGATION OF THE POLICE:

  1. While recording statement of the witness Under Section 161 Cr.P.C., it will be the duty of the Investigating Officer to make the witness aware of the Witness Protection Guidelines and also the fact that in case of any threat he can approach the Competent Authority. This the Investigation Officer will inform in writing duly acknowledged by the witness.
  2. It shall be the duty of the Commissioner of Police to provide security to a witness in respect of whom an order has been passed by the Competent Authority directing police protection.

In paragraph 17, Hon’ble Court has stated that :-
We further direct that the respondent, State shall give due publicity to the guidelines framed. We make it clear that the guidelines framed by us would not be in derogation of the powers of the concerned criminal court. If it forms an opinion that a witness requires police protection to so direct.

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