New Delhi: The city government on Wednesday, while filing its reply on a plea to evolve a witness protection policy, said a draft of the policy is ready to be placed before the cabinet, soliciting its approval for making the scheme operational.
GP Singh, additional home secretary of Delhi government, filed an affidavit before a division bench Chief Justice NV Ramana and Justice Manmohan, of the Delhi High Court, on a PIL to evolve a witness protection policy to ensure that witnesses are not harassed or intimidated by powerful accused in criminal cases.
The affidavit submitted that once the scheme is approved by the cabinet, it will be forwarded to the lieutenant governor for his approval, after which it will be notified.
"The draft of the Delhi Witness Protection Scheme, 2013, shall now be placed before the cabinet, soliciting its approval for making the scheme operational and for allocation of budgetary provision. Once the scheme is approved by the cabinet, it will be submitted to the lieutenant governor for his approval, after which the scheme will be notified," the affidavit stated.
The response stated that under the scheme, witness protection has been divided into three categories, according to threat perception.
The affidavit said there will be a witness protection fund, from which expenses incurred on implementation of the witness protection order passed by the competent authority (Delhi Legal Service Authority) will be met.
According to the draft policy, protection under this scheme can be sought by the competent authority by filing the prescribed form, as per the area of jurisdiction, along with supporting documents.
"Depending on the urgency of the matter owing to imminent threat, the competent authority can pass orders for interim protection of the witness or his family members," the draft policy said.
According to draft policy, it will ensure "expeditious recording of deposition during trial on day to day basis without adjournment".
It added that "witness to be appraised of the scheme. It shall be mandatory for investigating officer/court to inform each and every witness about the existence of witness protection scheme and its salient features."
The Delhi High Court May 22 had observed that witnesses are "bulwarks" in a criminal case and directed the city government to frame, within ten weeks, the witness protection policy.
The bench also gave the direction for prosecution of Bollywood actor Shayan Munshi and a ballistic expert for turning hostile in the sensational Jessica Lall murder case.
Lall was shot dead on the intervening night of April 29-30, 1999, by Manu Sharma, son of the Haryana Congress leader Venod Sharma, after she refused to serve him a drink at a late-night party at socialite Bina Ramani`s restaurant Tamarind Court in South Delhi.
Munshi, who was serving liquor alongside Lall on the fateful night, had lodged the FIR and later allegedly retracted during the trial, saying he did not know Hindi.