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SC EXPANDS THE DEFINITION OF VULNERABLE WITNESS

SC EXPANDS THE DEFINITION OF VULNERABLE WITNESS

Context:

On 11 January 2022, the Supreme Court expanded the definition of "vulnerable witness" in criminal cases in a significant order.

Key Points:

  • The Supreme Court also expanded the definition to include:
  •  Any person who is deaf or has any other disability
  •  Any person who is considered a weak witness by a court and any other witness will be considered vulnerable by the concerned court.
  • The need for the importance of building special facilities to construct a safe and secure environment to record the testimony of vulnerable witnesses has been the focus of this court for the past two decades.
  • The Supreme Court ordered all High Courts to accept and inform the Vulnerable Witness Deposition Center (VWDC) program. It should be done within two months from the date of this order unless the plan has already been notified.
  • The definition of 'vulnerable witnesses' in clause 3 of the VWDC program given by the Delhi High Court will not be just limited to child witnesses under the age of 18 and will be expanded.

➢     The following categories of victims should also be included under the definition:

  • Age-related sexual assault
  • Neutral victims of sexual harassment
  • Psychiatrists
  • Any other witnesses are considered under threat under the 2018 Witness government protection scheme of the Union Government.

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