Odisha plans scheme for witness protection

Security to be based on threat perception; standing committee to take final call
The Odisha government has come up with a special ‘Witness Protection Scheme’ to provide security to witnesses facing threat during the course of a legal battle. State counsel Bibhu Prasad Tripathy informed a single Bench of the Orissa High Court on Monday that the scheme has already been formulated and a gazette notification published on July 5.According to the notification, a district-level standing committee, chaired by a district and sessions judge, with the district police head as its member and the head of the prosecution in the district as its member secretary, will take a call on the need for protection.The district police chief will submit a report with regard to the seriousness and credibility of the threat to the witness or his/her family members if the person applies in a prescribed form. The report will detail the nature of the threat to the witness or his/her family members, their reputation or property. Besides, the intent and motive of the person issuing the threat and the resources available with him/her to execute it will figure in the analysis.
Analysis report
The threat analysis report, prepared with “full confidentiality”, will reach the competent authority “within five working days of its order for inquiry”. Based on the report, the authority will pass an order for protection of identity of the witness. The Witness Protection Cell will then ensure that the identities of the witness and his/her family members, including names, parentage, occupation, address and digital footprints, are fully protected. Provision of relocation of the witness to a safer place has also been made in the scheme. In appropriate cases, where there is a request from the witness for change of identity, based on the threat analysis report, a decision can be taken to confer “a new identity upon the witness through a competent authority”.
A dedicated cell of the State police or Central police agencies will be assigned with the duty of implementing the witness protection order. The ‘Witness Protection Fund’ proposed to be created will bear the expenses incurred during the implementation of the protection order.

Source : https://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/odisha-plans-scheme-for-witness-protection/article28325913.ece

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