Free Press Journal

HC pulls up Maha for not implementing witness protection prog


Mumbai: The Bombay High Court today ticked off Maharashtra Government for its failure to implement the “witness protection programme” despite its order.

A bench headed by Justice Abhay Oka was hearing a PIL for providing protection to whistle-blowers and social workers after the court took suo motu cognisance of the killing of Talegaon-based RTI activist Satish Shetty on January 13, 2010.

In February 2013, the government had come out with a policy for protection and safety of whistle-blowers before the court which suggested some changes.

The government today informed that it had drafted  a scheme to provide adequate protection to witnesses though the same was not implemented by issuing a Government Resolution (GR).

On this, the bench admonished the government and asked it to inform on Friday about the steps taken to follow directives of the court.

The court on an earlier occasion was informed that a GR dated August 13, 2013 had provided that on a complaint of threat to witnesses, a decision would be taken expeditiously to grant police protection without any delay.

It was also informed that inquiry would be conducted on application of activist by officer not below the rank of ACP or deputy superintendent of police and the database of activists shall be updated every month.

The court had then directed the government to set up a three-member committee comprising DGP or his subordinate and two persons — one each from Home and Social Welfare Departments.

“The committee shall reconsider the entire issue and find ways and means to give immediate protection to whistle blowers, particularly where allegations are against public servants,” the court had said.

The court had also directed the panel shall also consider steps to be taken for giving adequate protection to witnesses.

The court noted that statistics showed that in a large number of cases the accused were given acquittal because witnesses turned hostile.

“This is primarily due to the fact that witnesses do not get protection and are at the mercy of accused,” the court observed.