The Madhya Pradesh High Court has held that any petition which is in the nature of Habeas Corpus would not be maintainable when the detention is under the Witness Protection Scheme, 2018 for the purpose of protecting a witness.
The protection to a witness is given under the scheme by assessing the threat. This protection can be in the form of protection or the change of identity of a witness, relocation, installation of security devices at the residence of the witness, usage of special court rooms.
In the present case, the authorities raided a brothel, which was being run as a resto-bar, children and women there were forced to indulge in sexual activities, these women and children were being brought in from Bengal, Assam, Bangladesh, and other nearby places.
The women and children out of allegedly 67 women and 7 children who had agreed to become a witness in this case under section 164 of Cr.P.C., were sent to shelter homes for the purpose of protection under the scheme.
This petition was filed by the agents who were responsible for the trafficking of these women and children, they contested that they were their husbands. The court refused to entertain the petition and said that:
“it is not a case for issuance of a writ of habeas corpus. The rescued women are prime witnesses in respect of Crime No.496/2019 and they are having a threat of life. The safety of women is of paramount importance to this Court, especially when, they are women of very young age and who have been subjected to torture and all kind of sexual crimes.”
And the court finally rejected the petition by saying:
“Merely because, the petition in the nature of habeas corpus has been filed, this Court does not find any reason to allow the writ petition. No writ of habeas corpus, in the peculiar facts and circumstances of the case, can be issued especially when there is no illegal detention and in fact the witnesses have been provided protection and care by the State”
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