The Union Ministry of Home Affairs has told the Supreme Court that it has prepared a draft Witness Protection Scheme 2018, and also provided it to all the State Governments and the Union Territories Administration requesting them to furnish their comments.
The Supreme Court Bench was also apprised that, initially, the states and UTs were told to furnish their comments by 9th April, but later a remainder has been sent extending it to 31st May, 2018
“We expect all the State Governments as well as the Union Territories to furnish their comments by the aforesaid stipulated date of 31st May, 2018 to the Ministry of Home Affairs,” the bench of Justice AK Sikri and Justice Ashok Bhushan said.
The bench also directed the Home Ministry to finalize the draft scheme, after receive suggestions and comments from the States and UTs, before the next date of hearing.
The matter has now been posted to the second week of August, 2018.
The bench, while it was hearing a plea seeking protection for witnesses in rape cases involving self-styled preacher Asaram Bapu, had issued notices to all the states, seeking their responses on the issue of witness protection.
It had questioned why till now the states have not formulated any witness protection programme. Later during a hearing held in November, the bench had questioned delay in fthe raming of draft witness protection scheme.
“At least come out with a draft programme… or give good suggestions on the issue. In the NIA (National Investigation Agency) Act, there are specific provisions for witness protection. Why cannot it be there for all,” the bench had asked the Attorney General.