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Witness Protection- "Surprising That Despite Accepting Threat To Life, Witness' Security Was Reduced": Allahabad HC Restores Security Arrangements

Sparsh Upadhyay
26 Oct 2021 2:56 PM GMT
Witness Protection- Surprising That Despite Accepting Threat To Life, Witness Security Was Reduced: Allahabad HC Restores Security Arrangements
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Expressing surprise over the decision of a committee headed by the District Judge to reduce the security provided to a witness (in a criminal trial) despite accepting a threat to his life, the Allahabad High Court recently restored the security arrangements of the witness/petitioner till further orders. Essentially, the bench of Justice Rajan Roy and Justice Suresh Kumar Gupta...

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Expressing surprise over the decision of a committee headed by the District Judge to reduce the security provided to a witness (in a criminal trial) despite accepting a threat to his life, the Allahabad High Court recently restored the security arrangements of the witness/petitioner till further orders.

Essentially, the bench of Justice Rajan Roy and Justice Suresh Kumar Gupta was hearing the plea of one Vrijendra Pratap Singh, who is a witness in a criminal case and who was earlier provided with one gunner round the clock in view of threat perception to his life at the hand of the accused.

Significantly, in the concerned criminal case, the petitioner/witness is the injured witness and is also a victim of the crime. Accordingly, the protection was provided to him vide court order dated September 2, 2019.

However, subsequently, a District Level Security Committee headed by the District Judge ordered the reduction of the level of security having been provided to the petitioner/witness, despite accepting that there was a threat to the life of the petitioner/witness.

Essentially, on March 23, it was ordered that instead of the earlier arrangement, wherein, one gunner was provided to the petitioner round the clock, now security would be provided by a Police Station on the date fixed for trial.

Thereafter, by way of a subsequent order, a modification was made that one security personnel from the concerned Police Station shall be provided to the petitioner a day prior to the date fixed before the trial court.

Against this backdrop, the Court, at the outset, observed thus:

"When there is an admitted threat perception to the petitioner, then, one fails to understand that as to how this arrangement is going to secure his life, what if, an attempt is made on his life during the period the security personnel is not provided to him."

The Court also expressed surprise as to how the committee headed by the district judge came to the said conclusion in a matter of such importance, involving the protection of a witness covered by the Witness Protection Scheme, 2018 which has been declared as law of the land having been approved by the Hon'ble Supreme Court in the case of Mahendra Chawla Vs. Union of India & Ors.,

Lastly, restoring the security arrangements, the Court called for a counter-affidavit from the opposite parties within four weeks.

Case title - Vrijendra Pratap Singh v. State Of U.P. Thru. Prin. Secy. Home Lko. & Ors

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