Supreme Court held that accused can have access to redacted copies of witness statement Supreme Court on Friday in the case of Waheed -UR-Rehman- Parra v. Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir upheld the judgment of the trial court and set aside the judgment of the high court. Supreme Court held that the accused can have access to the statement of the protected witness. If the judge is convinced that there is a threat to the life and property of the protected witness then the accused can have access to the redacted statement of the protected witness in which the details of the witness is not disclosed.
Facts of the case:
An FIR was registered under sections 18,19,20,38 and 39 of the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act read with section 7/25 of the arms act.1959 and section 34 of the explosive substance act against one Naveed Mushtaq and others. The appellant was herein arrested under the said FIR on 25.11.2020 On the same set of allegations and evidence as that of NIA, the respondent (state prosecution) filed a final report/charge sheet against the accused.
Trial Court Proceedings:
i) seeking a declaration of five witnesses as protected witnesses and
ii) for certain documents to be marked as D1 and to exclude D1 from the documents to be provided to the accused.
The appellant applied section 207 of Cr. P.C before the trial court praying for a redacted copy of the statements of protected witness A-1 to A-5. High Court of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh through vide impugned order dated 11.01.2021 gave judgement in favour of respondents. The High court held that the trial court had allowed the plea of protected witness and permitting the accused to have access to redacted statement copies of the protected witness would amount to revisiting and reviewing its orders and the same would expose the protected witness to vulnerability.
Findings of the supreme court:
The appeal was filed by the appellant before the supreme court requesting the court to set aside the judgment of the high court. The main contention of the appellant is that in the cases where witnesses are declared as protected witnesses by the trial court, can the defence seek recourse to remedy under section 207 and section 161 of the Cr. PC. The Supreme court upheld the findings of the trial court order dated 11.09.2021 and held that wide discretion has been given to Special Public Prosecutor. Special Public Prosecutor can provide the redacted copies of witness statements that do not disclose the witness's identities. It was further held that the paragraphs disclosing the profession or place of the protected witness should also be redacted before providing to the accused.
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