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THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

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M A I L B A G

Centre should act on witness protection

V. ESHWAR ANAND’s article, Triumph of justice: Law on witness protection a pressing need (Jan 19) and the editorial “Acquitting a criminal: Prosecution and trial courts must do their duty” (Feb 1) are timely. I very much appreciate the Delhi High Court’s pro-active role in the Jessica Lall murder case. On Feb 1, it has directed 29 witnesses to explain in a fortnight why action should not be taken against them for changing their statements.

There is no doubt that the media played a notable role in exposing the flaws in the criminal justice system, especially against the trial court rulings in the Jessica Lall, Priyadarshini Matoo and the Best Bakery cases. Finally, all the accused are behind bars, after retrials. Moreover, had the trial courts performed their duty properly in the three cases, the accused would not have been let off.

As brought out by Mr Eshwar Anand, witnesses deserve all protection by the government so that they are not coerced or lured to change their statements by the accused. He has listed many cases in which the designated courts stressed the need to keep the identity of witnesses to be examined by it secret. Supreme Court Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishanan has also referred to the need for witness protection even though it remains to seen how this suggestion could be implemented in toto, keeping in view the extent and magnitude of the problem. In any case, the Centre and the states should implement the recommendations of the Law Commission and the Malimath Committee Report on witness protection.

O.P. GARG, Patiala


 

II

The writer has aptly suggested in his article that the confessional statements of all witnesses should be video-recorded in the presence of a first class magistrate. This suggestion will, certainly, prevent a witness from turning hostile either by coercion or by the lure of money.

If the United States and European countries have an elaborate system of witness protection, why can India not emulate the same in the interest of the criminal justice system? The ultimate objective should be to prevent witnesses from retracting their statements and making a mockery of justice.In fact, the Supreme Court has itself ruled many a time that legislative measures to check tampering with witnesses, victims or informants have become an “inevitable need of the day.”

JAI GOPAL KUSLA, Ludhiana

III

In the three cases as mentioned, the media indeed played the role of a watchdog. But for the relentless campaign by the media, the accused would have roamed about freely today. Though justice was delayed in all the cases, the common man is happy that at last justice has triumphed.

The Delhi High Court’s rulings in the Jessica Lall and Priyadarshini Matoo cases have restored the people’s trust and confidence in the judiciary. I expect the media to take up such issues and educate the common man now and then. It should leave no stone unturned to help judiciary deliver justice in a free and fair manner.

ALKESH SHARMA, Chandigarh

IV

Multan Singh Parihar’s letter, Onus squarely rests on the trial court (Jan 30) was interesting. However, the Jessica Lall case and the Nanavati case have different angles.

I remember having read in The Tribune during 1958-59 that Commander Nanavati, a Naval officer, killed Ahuja, paramour of his wife Sylvia, with his revolver in his own flat. Subsequently, the case was put to trial, but it faced many twists and turns. Judge R.B. Mehta’s recommendation to the Bombay High Court for further adjudication of the case ignoring the majority opinion of the jury was fallible, not weighing the circumstantial evidence of the human nature of the case. However, the Maharashtra Governor pardoned Nanavati.

RIKHI DASS THAKUR, Palbhu (Hamirpur)

 

Demarcate the road

Despite repeated requests from the villagers of Bathian Brahmana, the revenue authorities have failed to demarcate the 11-km Mahmowal-Bathian Brahmana road in Hoshiarpur taluk. On October 17, 2006, an official team had reported missing of the entire road along the border of the two villages.

However, no efforts have been made to trace the missing road and demarcate it. Surprisingly, the authorities of PWD (B&R), Hoshiarpur Circle, are supervising the construction of this road without bothering about its demarcation. The farmers of Bathian Brahmana village are facing problems because a large portion of the land has been constructed on their land.

I met the Deputy Commissioner. According to the SDO’s office, the Tehsildar has been informed on Dec 18, 2006 and Jan 4, 2007 to demarcate the road. Yet, the work has not started. The road construction work should be taken up only after proper demarcation.

ANUPAM SAMRAAT, Bathian Brahmana (Hoshiarpur)


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