`Large no of acquittals due to lack of protection for victims`

Lack of protection for victims is one reason for large percentage of acquittals in criminal cases relating to sexual offences, NV Ramana said.

New Delhi: Lack of protection for victims, witnesses and their families to depose fearlessly is the main reason for large percentage of acquittals in criminal cases relating to sexual offences, Chief Justice of Delhi High Court N V Ramana said on Wednesday.

"When the witness reaches the court, he is not treated in a proper manner...When he attends the court, he is completely ignorant, confused, not knowing where to sit, where to stand.

"One of the main reasons for the large percentage of acquittals in criminal cases is of witness turning hostile and giving false testimonies in criminal cases. Main reason for this is the lack of protection for them and their family," he said.

The Chief Justice was speaking at the inauguration of `Vulnerable Witness Deposition Complex` at Karkardooma Court here, which is the first complex of its kind in India and South Asia.

The complex has been designed "to provide protection, privacy, confidentiality and comfort to vulnerable witnesses in an in-camera atmosphere" in cases of sexual offences, Justice Ramana said.

He said the facility would enable witnesses to depose without hurdles as for many victims and witnesses, the experience of crime leaves them fearful and anxious.

"This is particularly so for vulnerable groups such as women and children," he said.
Observing that giving evidence in courts is "an unfamiliar and uncomfortable experience for most witnesses," he said, "an efficient and compassionate response across the criminal justice system can hold the confidence of the victim and general public that their concerns are taken seriously and acted upon."

The Chief Justice said the judiciary trying these cases is playing an active part in developing a comprehensive witness protection plan.

He said the complex at the Karkardooma court is equipped with several facilities like video-conferencing, separate rooms for witness, who is protected from the site of the accused, and separate waiting area.


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