Statutory Witness Protection in India: A Cardinal Urgency

The inception of administration of justice is largely centered upon witnesses coming forward and deposing without pressure or enticement before a Court of law. The very institution of the criminal justice system gets annihilated if witnesses are threatened and incapacitated from tendering substantive evidence to the Court. The criminal justice system must endeavor to accomplish the intricate balance of conflicting interests of the accused, the victim and the society. The necessity of fairness permeates in every practice and process of law. It is beyond the bounds of possibility to pursue truth and preserve the operating principles of a fair and just trial without credible and valuable evidence. The prevailing state of affairs in India with respect to conduct of legal proceedings is not very assuring. In the absence of any statutory protection, the witnesses are debilitated in every which way from giving a truthful testimony, leading to the derailment of the entire trial. This paper aims to study the significance of the role of a witness in a criminal trial, the inadequacy of current laws in India for protection of witnesses and its implications along with a comparative study with the laws and witness protection programs across the world. This paper follows the approach of secondary research and seeks to add to the existing literature with respect to criminal justice system and the need to protect the witnesses while exploring the measures undertaken in this regard globally. The author concludes with highlighting the imperative need for an independent legislation for witness protection in order to vindicate and uphold the concept of fair trial.