Srinagar: The High Court of Jammu and Kashmir on Wednesday set aside the trial court order allowing PDP youth leader Waheed Parra to access statements and identify the protected witnesses of the prosecution.
A bench of Chief Justice Pankaj Mithal and Justice Vinod Chatterji Koul while allowing the plea of CIK, Srinagar, said, “In the present case, once the Trial Court, while passing order dated 1st June 2021, allowed application of prosecution/appellant, declaring the witnesses (A-1 to A-5) as protected witnesses, keeping them and their statements in a sealed cover, it cannot now by other order dated 11th September 2021 revisit and review its own orders, and pass such an order which exposes the protected witnesses to vulnerability.”
The bench further recorded that the submission of senior counsel RA Jan, appearing for Waheed Para, stating that the impugned order is interlocutory, has no substance as in terms of the order, as stated above, “the Trial Court has finally decided an application which, in essence and core, has reviewed its earlier order and has exposed the protected witnesses to susceptibility.”
The court recorded that under the provisions of Section 44 of UA(P) Act particularly subsection (2) thereof, a Court, if on an application made by a witness before it or by Public Prosecutor about such witness or on its own motion, is satisfied that the life of such witness is in danger, it may take such measures as it deems fit to keep identity and address of such witness secret.
“Also section 17 of the NIA act makes it clear for protection of the vulnerable and genuine protected witnesses,” the court noted.
“In our view, the words, “identity” and “address”, are wide enough to take in not only the name and address of a witness, but also other relevant aspects like his native place, his profession or any other special feature which may tend to pinpoint the witness to the accused,” the bench recorded.
“For the foregoing reasons, the instant Appeal is allowed and “the Order dated 11th September 2021 passed by the court of Special Judge Designated under NIA Act, Srinagar, in the case titled Waheed-ur-Rehman Parra vs. UT of J&K, is set-aside,” the court said and directed.
Earlier, Police Station CIK, Srinagar, had registered an FIR no.31/2021 under various sections of UA(P) Act against Parra who was arrested on 10 January 2021.
The charge sheet was filed before the Trial Court. Consequently, an application under Section 44 of UA(P) Act read with Section 173 (6) of the Code of Criminal Procedure was filed by CIK, Srinagar before the Trial Court, seeking declaring five prosecution witnesses (A-1 to A-5) as protected witnesses and keeping their statements in sealed cover and excluding the same from being furnished to the accused.
The aforesaid application was allowed vide order dated 1st June 2021. Nevertheless, Parra moved an application for issuance of copy of statements of protected witnesses (A-1 to A-5), which was allowed by the Trial Court vide order 11th September 2021.