Home Ministry Current Affairs - 2019
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Supreme Court has approved Witness Protection Scheme 2018 and directed Union and State Governments to enforce the same. This scheme was framed by Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) in response to PIL seeking protection for witnesses.
The apex court held that scheme will become law under Article 141/142 of Constitution till enactment of parliamentary and state legislations on the subject. It also directed states/UTs to set up the vulnerable witness deposition complexes (VWDCs) within period of 1 year (by the end of 2019). It also observed that there is paramount need to have witness protection regime in statutory form. The main reasons for establishing these VWDC is large percentage of acquittal in criminal cases is due to witnesses turning hostile and giving false testimonies, mostly due to lack of protection for them and their families.
Witness Protection Scheme 2018
It has been formulated by Home Ministry on the inputs received from 18 States/UTs, five state legal services authorities and open sources including civil society, three high courts as well as from police personnel. It was finalised in consultation with National Legal Services Authority (NALSA).
It aims to ensure that investigation, prosecution and trial of criminal offences does not turn out to be biased as witnesses are intimidated or frightened to give evidence without protection from violent or other criminal recrimination.
- Identifying categories of threat perceptions
- Preparation of Threat Analysis Report by the head of police
- Confidentiality and preservation of records, recovery of expenses, etc.
- Types of protection measures like ensuring that witness and accused do not come face to face during investigation etc. protection of identity, change of identity, relocation of witness
Three types of witnesses categorises
- Threat extends to life of witness or his family members during investigation, trial or thereafter.
- Threat extends to safety, reputation or property of witness or his family members, during investigation, trial.
- Threat is moderate and extends to harassment of witness or his family member’s, reputation or property during investigation, trial or thereafter.
Categorised witnesses under the scheme can file application for seeking protection order before competent authority of concerned district where offence is committed. This competent authority will be chaired by District and Sessions Judge. Head of police in the district will be its member and head of prosecution in the district as its member secretary.
When this authority receives application, it has to call for Threat Analysis Report (TAR) from ACP/DSP in charge of the concerned Police Sub-Division. The authority is also empowered to order protection measures based on TAR such as identity protection, change of identity and relocation of witnesses.
Union Home Ministry has released more than Rs. 113 crore to six border states under Border Area Development Programme (BADP) as part of its plan to ameliorate the problems of people living in isolated locations. These six states are Assam, Nagaland, Sikkim, Gujarat, Rajasthan and Uttarakhand.
Till now, Home Ministry has released total of Rs. 637.98 crore during 2018-19 period to states having International Border. The funds released are in addition to the Rs. 1,100-crore released in 2017-18 for the all-round development of villages located along International Border in 17 states. India shares land border with seven neighbouring countries viz. Bangladesh (4,096 km), China (3,488 km), Pakistan (3,323 km), Nepal (1,751 km), Myanmar (1,643 km), Bhutan (699 km) and Afghanistan (106km in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir).
Border Area Development Programme (BADP)
The umbrella BADP scheme is being implemented by Union Home Ministry in 367 border blocks of 104 border districts in 17 states. Its objective is to meet special developmental needs and well-being of people living in remote and inaccessible areas situated near international border areas. It also seeks to saturate border areas with entire essential infrastructure through convergence of Union, state, BADP, local schemes and participatory approach.
Sub-schemes under it include construction of primary health centres (PHCs), connectivity, schools, supply of drinking water, community centres, drainage to enable sustainable living in border areas. It also covers schemes or activities relating to skill development programmes, promotion of sports activities in border areas, promotion of rural tourism, border tourism, protection of heritage sites, Swachhta Abhiyan, construction of helipads in remote and inaccessible hilly areas, which do not have road connectivity.
Skill development training to farmers for use of modern and scientific techniques in agriculture, organic farming is also part of BADP now. As many as 61 model villages are being developed under BADP to improve the quality of life for people living near border areas. A total of Rs 13,400 crore so far have been released since BADP programme was initiated in 1986-87.