Cases Against Lawmakers: Supreme Court Asks Trial Courts To Consider Witness Protection
The Supreme Court has directed the trial courts to consider granting protection to witnesses in cases against sitting and former lawmakers under Witness Protection Scheme without their making any specific application in this regard.
A three-judge bench of Justices NV Ramana, Surya Kant and Anirudhha Bose, said the Witness Protection Scheme, 2018, approved by it should be strictly enforced by the Union, States and Union Territories.
"Keeping in mind the vulnerability of the witnesses in such cases, the Trial Courts may consider granting protection under the said Scheme to witnesses without their making any specific application in this regard," the bench said.
The apex court noted that most witnesses are unwilling to appear before the respective Courts to make depositions in courts.
It directed that no unnecessary adjournments be granted in cases related to lawmakers keeping in mind the public interest involved in these matters.
"At the cost of repetition, it is clarified that the directions in the present writ proceedings are applicable to both sitting as well as former legislators (MPs and MLAs)," the bench said.
The apex court also granted Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the Centre, one more week's time to file a reply to submit the status report relating to investigations against lawmakers by special agencies.
The bench was hearing a PIL filed by lawyer and BJP leader Ashwini Upadhyay seeking speedy disposal of cases against the lawmakers.
Earlier during the hearing, the bench had not agreed to the submission of senior advocate Vijay Hansaria, who is amicus curiae in the matter, that a direction be given to the special courts to grant protection to the witnesses in cases against lawmakers.
There are thousands of witnesses in over four thousand cases against MPs and MLAs and is it possible to grant protection to all. There must be some application by somebody seeking protection, the bench had said.
On the issue of providing public prosecutors to try such cases, the bench had said the example of 2G and the coal scam cases cannot be followed in such matters which are huge in numbers and moreover, this aspect is governed by CrPC as well.