Witness, its Importance and Direction of Courts.
Author: Mr. Raj Aryan
While the bench consisting of Justice Harinder Singh Sidhu and Justice Rajiv Sharma was considering an appeal of a convict in a murder case. It was observed during the proceedings that some of the official witnesses are the case was turned hostile and were unwilling to give answers (true) in the inquiry.
The bench after observing this had said that witnesses play one of a major role in the administration of justice. They used to spend out from their pocket and travel long distances and even pay for their accommodation. For the same, they need to given honor and respect. They need to be given the boarding and lodging facilities by the State Government. They and even their families always pose a threat to their life as the witness has to depose against the gangsters, smugglers, muscle men, criminals and many more which falls in these categories. These kinds of threats keep the witness away from the courts and don’t allow them to come, by their family members too. It’s not like that the witness has a threat only during the trial course but even threat persists after the conclusion of a trial. Even many times unnecessary adjournments given by the trial court cause mental agony to the witness. So for the sake of justice, the entire system needs to be sensitized and the trial courts should be held on a day-to-day basis. Since the witnesses are under constant threat, it sounds reasonable to turning them into hostile. As the main motive of a witness is to act as evidence and contribute to the fair trial. They will do the same when they will get fair and reasonable care.
The bench then issued directions to the State of Punjab for the protection of witnesses in criminal cases:
- To punish the pest pressurizing, and threatening for giving false statement within three months.
- To pay the witnesses a reasonable amount as a traveling allowance on the date of recording of their statement. If the statement is not taken on that date, then boarding and lodging of witnesses should be provided by State Government from State Exchequer.
- To protect, change and relocate the identity of witnesses; to install security devices such as security doors, alarms, CCTCs, etc in the witness home.
- The Police should protect the witness, do regular patrolling around witness home, escort from home to court and vice versa.
- To go according to Section 309 CrPC, and examine the eyewitnesses on a day-to-day basis. Further, it said, adjournments for the next day shall be given only after recording cogent and on special reasons. The Reporting Officers are directed to give remarks in Annual Confidential Reports of Judicial Officers who don’t hold a trial daily.
These directions issued by the court to meet the demand for the administration of justice. The witnesses are the major core of the criminal cases, and even the condition of witnesses remains the most. As witnesses are pressurized by both sides (especially eyewitnesses), the person who suffered from the crime, to help him in providing punishment to the criminal. And even from the criminal side that if he dares to do so his along with the life of his family members will come under danger. And in this situation, any person will choose to save his life along with the life of his family members. So if the directions issued by the court were worked upon, the witness can get much help from that and they will also then want the criminals to get punished and will themselves contribute in the process too.
The bench of justices held that “All the investigating officers in the State of Punjab are directed to record statements under Section 161 CrPC by audio, video, and electronic means forthwith, as per Section 161 CrPC.
Section 161 states that:
- Any police officer prescribed by the State Government of any rank may examine that person only who is supposed to be acquainted with the facts and circumstances of the case.
- Such person shall be bound to answer truly all questions relating to such case, and even the answers which would expose him to a criminal charge or penalty or forfeiture.
- The police officer may reduce any statement made to him in writing in the course under this section, and shall make a true and separate record or statement of such person whose statement he records.
So, if proper procedure is followed and the persons contributing is conferring justice should be taken care of, criminals will get punished easily and everyone doing their work honestly will lead to a better and improved justice tomorrow.