Witnesses killed, turn hostile data not maintained centrally: Govt

New Delhi, July 20: Details of witnesses killed and cases in which accused were set free due to adverse attitude of witnesses are not maintained centrally, Minister of State (Home Affairs) Nityanand Rai said on Tuesday.

In a written reply to parliamentarian Jayadev Galla in Lok Sabha, the minister said the duration of protection of witnesses is not restricted to three months and can be extended.

He said, "The Witness Protection Scheme, 2018 provides that the witness protection measures ordered shall be proportionate to the threat and shall be for a specific duration not exceeding three months at a time."

The duration of protection is thus, not restricted to three months. The same can be extended by the Competent Authority keeping in view the threat perception.

The Witness Protection Scheme, 2018 provides that all stakeholders including the police, prosecution department, court staff and lawyers from both sides shall maintain full confidentiality and shall ensure that under no circumstance, any record, document or information in relation to the proceedings under this scheme shall be shared with any person in any manner except with the permission of the Trial Court or Appellate Court and that too, on a written order.

It is the National Crime Records Bureau which centrally keeps and maintains data and details of crime and policing across India. However, in this case the government hinted that the bureau does not maintain data of witnesses killed or turned hostile.

On a regular basis, in India cases have been reported that witnesses were killed or they turned hostile. In March this year, Vikash Kumar, a witness in two separate murder cases, was shot dead near Hakimganj in Bihar's Lakhisari. Vikash was scheduled to depose before a court in Lakhisarai in the retired Army jawan murder case. However, he was shot dead.

Similarly, last year a woman witness in a molestation case was killed in Uttar Pradesh's Kanpur. She, along with another witness, was brutally attacked by the accused after which she succumbed to the injuries.The cops had arrested four people for beating up the witnesses.

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