Judges can't act as tape recorders, but need to protect witnesses:SC

Judges can't act as tape recorders, but need to protect witnesses:SC

A bench of justices J M Panchal and H L Gokhale passed the order on a petition filed by Vikas Kumar Roorkewal, son of the deceased Radhey Shyam, a Superintendent Engineer with Uttarakhand Irrigation Department, who sought the transfer on the ground that the family and witnesses were facing constant threats and intimidation from the accused.
Shyam, who was dealing with Rs 240-crore Upper Ganga Link Canal Project, was shot dead in broad daylight on June 18, 2006, at his camp office in Roorkee in front Roorkewal and other witnesses.

The case was pending trial in a Fast Track court, Haridwar, since 2006. The deceased's son alleged a number of other engineers too were earlier murdered by the mafia who had let loose a reign of terror.

It was stated that the witnesses and the family members of Shyam were facing constant threats and even the driver of the deceased, who was a key prosecution witness, had turned hostile during the trial. According to the deceased's son, though they have made several representations to the authorities and the trial court concerned, no action was taken to protect the witnesses.

Accepting the plea, Justice Panchal, writing the judgement, said "the necessity of a fair trial hardly needs emphasis. The state has a definite role to play in protecting the witnesses, to start with at least in sensitive cases.

"The learned judge has failed to take participatory role in the trial. He was not expected to act like a mere tape recorder to record whatever had been stated by the witnesses," the bench said.