‘Witnesses’ as Bentham said are the eyes and ears of justice. The predicament of witness in a criminal trial is oft found to be mired with various intrinsic and extrinsic factors, ranging from financial constraints of the witnesses, to confronting coercion and intimidation which cumulatively thwarts the progress reached in a Judicial proceeding. Quelling the witnesses in deposing before a court of law, is a significant reason for throwing spanner in the progress of a trial apart from other supplementary reasons could be attributed to the delay incurred in a proceeding before a Court of Law.
It will not be out of place to mention the Judgment passed by the Hon’ble Supreme Court in Sakshi Vs. Union of India, wherein the Hon’ble Supreme Court had accentuated upon the necessity to place a screen or a similar arrangement where the victim or witness does not has to undergo the trauma of seeing the body or face of the accused. Further, in the said Judgment it has also been observed that, at such instances where a screen is placed, the questions to be put to the witness in cross-examination can be given in writing to the presiding officer of the Court, who may in turn read out the same questions to the victim/witness in a language which is not embarrassing.
At the outset, in the Witness Protection Bill 2015, endeavour has been made to define as to who a witness is by defining that a witness is a person who is acquainted with the facts of a crime.