In India, during the trial of criminal cases where the accused are influential and powerful, many witnesses turn hostile and some, who do not, get intimidated, attacked and in extreme cases even eliminated by the cohorts and hirelings of the accused. Legal experts have suggested that
Over and above whatever the police can do, there could be a method of providing additional protection to all witnesses who have given or are giving evidence in criminal cases, and this without deploying any security men or incurring any expenses. And that is through amending the Indian Penal Code, Criminal Procedures Code, Indian Evidence Act and any other statutes, whichever are applicable, to provide that if within twelve years of giving evidence in a criminal case the witness or members of his/her family suffer intimidation or any harm to their person or property at the hands of any persons, even in road accidents, the complicity of the persons, against whom the witness had given evidence to the police or in a court of law, shall be presumed under law and the onus to prove themselves innocent shall be on such persons.
If this new law is made, it will be in the interest of the accused not to intimidate the witnesses, who had given evidence against them, or to harm them in any manner. Of course, this should be treated only as a secondary protection, the primary being that provided by the police.
The ambit of this new law can be extended to safeguard the interests of whistleblowers and persons seeking information under the Right to Information Act, 2005.