`Courts should come forward to protect witnesses`

Delhi court has said courts should come forward to protect witnesses or else criminals would have a field day.

New Delhi: Ruing that witnesses were being won over in criminal cases, a Delhi court has said courts should come forward to protect them or else criminals would have a field day.

"The witness is backbone of the criminal justice system and if the backbone is broken, the whole criminal justice system would crumble," Additional Sessions Judge Gurdeep Singh remarked.

"If the courts do not come forward to rescue the witnesses and use power to give sentence to the fullest, the witness would not have any sense of security and the criminal will have a field day," he said.

The ASJ made the observation while sentencing 27-year-old Kuldeep to ten-year jail and imposing a fine of Rs 50,000 for attempting to murder one Sachin Bhardwaj, who was a witness against him in a robbery case.

The accused had tried to pressurise Bhardwaj not to depose against him and finally won him over.

The prosecution case was Kuldeep and his accomplice, all residents of northwest Delhi, beat up Sachin, his brother Sunil and his friends and looted them on September 3, 2009.

A case of robbery was then registered against them, the prosecution said.

On September 6, 2009, Sachin was returning from work when Kuldeep intercepted him in a car and asked him not to depose against him in the robbery case. When Sachin did not accede to his request, Kuldeep whipped out a revolver and shot at Sachin, who was hit in his leg, the prosecution said.

Sachin`s brother Sunil rushed him to the hospital and informed the police that he had seen Kuldeep shoot at Sunil. Subsequently, police lodged a case of attempt to murder under the IPC and also charged him under the Arms Act.

Later when Sachin was discharged from the hospital, he
had turned hostile in the court.

The judge, in his order, noted that he and Kuldeep had reached a compromise with the intervention of village elders and "obvious reasons of fear".

The judge, however, relied upon circumstantial evidence and the deposition of Sunil to hold Kuldeep guilty.

"Any peace loving citizen would not come forward to make complaint against any criminal in such circumstances. It is well known that public witnesses do not come forward to give evidence against the criminals and if they stand witness they do not support prosecution as it happened in this case," the ASJ noted.

The court also directed police to provide protection to Sunil, after his counsel Birender Sangwan submitted that he is being threatened by Kuldeep`s relatives.


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