Vulnerable Witness Deposition Scheme

By : Neha Dhyani

Updated : Apr 18, 2022, 14:55

The Supreme Court (SC) has broadened the definition of vulnerable witnesses to include sexual assault victims, mental illnesses, and people with speech or hearing impairments. This article will look into the Vulnerable Witness Deposition Scheme in detail.

Vulnerable Witness Deposition Scheme - Overview

The Supreme Court also addressed the establishment of VWDCs. The court examines the following issues in this regard:

  1. Establishing centres that will serve as a constraint atmosphere for recording witness statements
  2. Within two months, a Vulnerable Witness Deposition Scheme plan will be implemented.
  3. Creating a long-term Vulnerable Witness Deposition Scheme committee
  4. The bench also issued an order establishing VWDCs in each district. They will all be near the Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) centres.

Who are the most helpless victims?

The Supreme Court has added sexual assault victims to the list of vulnerable witnesses. The following are the additional victims that are at risk:

  1. Sexual assault victims of all genders
  2. Witnesses who believe they are in danger. These individuals are covered under the Union's Witness Protection Scheme, which the Central Government established in 2018.
  3. Witnesses who have been diagnosed with a mental illness as specified by the Mental Health Care Act
  4. Individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing
  5. A person with additional types of disability, as determined by the courts.
  6. Section 377 of the IPC defines sexual assault victims.
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Training Programs at the Vulnerable Witness Deposition Scheme

  1. The court also emphasised the significance of undertaking training programmes for all VWDC members and stakeholders to run the organisation effectively.
  2. Former Chief Justice of the Jammu and Kashmir High Court, Justice Gita Mittal, has been chosen as the committee's inaugural Chairperson and has been tasked with developing and implementing an all-India VWDC training programme. Her initial contract was for two months.
  3. State and national legal assistance authorities should collaborate with the Chairperson to provide an efficient platform for training programmes.
  4. The Union Ministry of Women and Child Development will appoint a nodal officer to provide logistical support.

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Main Characteristics of the Vulnerable Witness Deposition Scheme

  1. Training programmes for managing the Vulnerable Witness Deposition Scheme centre will be held. Staff, bench, and bar will all receive training. The Chairperson of the VWDC panel will have a two-year first term.
  2. At least one Vulnerable Witness Deposition Scheme centre in each district must be constructed.
  3. The VWDC centres shall be located within the Alternate Dispute Resolution Centres where the ADR Centres are situated within the court premises or close to the courts.
  4. It asked that a nodal officer be appointed by the Union Ministry of Women and Child Development to oversee the scheme's implementation.
  5. VWDCs are already installed in a few HC. The HC in question will make the appropriate changes.

In India, there is witness protection.

  • The Witness Protection Scheme 2018 was established by the Supreme Court in 2018 to allow a witness to testify fearlessly and accurately. According to the ruling, the freedom of witnesses to speak truthfully in court is protected under Article 21. (Right to Life).
  • Under Article 141/142, the proposal will be enacted into the law of the Indian Constitution.
  • According to the court, all States and UTs have also been required to put up vulnerable witness deposition complexes.
  • While the policy is still being debated in Parliament, the Supreme Court has ordered that it be implemented immediately in all states and become the rule of the land.
  • For years, Law Commission recommendations and court judgements have emphasised the importance of witness protection.
  • A witness protection plan was advocated in the State of Gujarat v. Anirudh Singh (1997), 14th Law Commission Report, and Malimath Committee Report.

Victims under the age of 18, eyewitnesses who have a mental illness, and sexual assault victims were previously regarded as vulnerable victims by the Supreme Court. This time, the scope has been broadened by the Vulnerable Witness Deposition Scheme to include victims who are facing grave danger.

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FAQs on Vulnerable Witness Deposition Scheme

Q.1. What is the Vulnerable Witness Deposition Scheme?

Under the Vulnerable Witness Deposition Scheme, the Supreme Court (SC) has broadened the definition of vulnerable witnesses to include sexual assault victims, those with mental illnesses, and people who have speech or hearing impairments.

Q.2. According to the Vulnerable Witness Deposition Scheme, who are the most helpless victims?

According to the Vulnerable Witness Deposition Scheme, the most helpless victims are:

  1. Sexual assault victims of all genders
  2. Witnesses who believe they are in danger. These individuals are covered under the Union's Witness Protection Scheme, which the Central Government established in 2018.
  3. Witnesses who have been diagnosed with a mental illness as specified by the Mental Health Care Act

Q.3. Before the Vulnerable Witness Deposition Scheme, who was regarded as the vulnerable victims by the Supreme Court?

Prior to the Vulnerable Witness Deposition Scheme, victims under the age of 18, eyewitnesses who have a mental illness, and sexual assault victims were regarded as vulnerable victims by the Supreme Court. This time, the scope has been broadened to include victims who are facing grave danger.

Q.4. In which year was the Vulnerable Witness Deposition Scheme established?

The Supreme Court established the Vulnerable Witness Deposition Scheme in 2018.

Q.5. Which is one of the main characteristics of the Vulnerable Witness Deposition Scheme?

Training programmes for managing the Vulnerable Witness Deposition Scheme centre will be held. Staff, bench, and bar will all receive training. The chairperson of the VWDC panel will have a two-year first term.