Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma on Thursday gave approval to the state’s first-ever witness protection scheme for ensuring fair justice delivery system.

Announcing the cabinet meeting resolutions held at Nalbari, CM Biswa Sarma said the cabinet has okayed the Assam Witness Protection Scheme, 2024 to ensure adherence to Section 398 of Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha Sanhita, 2023, to ensure protection of witnesses against imminent threats during the course of the investigation and trial of any cases.

According to the scheme, a witness in any case could apply for Witness Protection in prescribed form before a competent authority through its member secretary for seeking Witness Protection Order.

“…The Competent Authority is a standing committee in each District chaired by the District and Sessions Judge. The Head of the Police in the District and an officer not below the rank of the ADC to be nominated by the District Magistrate will be its members and the Head of the Prosecution in the District will be its Member Secretary. The Witnesses will be categorized as A, B & C as per threat perception. Constitution of Witness Protection Fund under the scheme. A State Witness Protection Authority will be constituted,” CM Biswa Sarma said on his social media handle.

Protection measures under the witness protection scheme would include holding of in-camera trials, installation of security devices such as CCTV, security door, alarm, fencing etc. in the witness’ home, close protection and patrolling near witness’ home, temporary change of residence, escort to and from the court, provision of government vehicle for the date of hearing etc.

Festive offer

Special recruitment drive of school teachers

The state government also approved to hold a special recruitment drive of experienced contractual teachers in government schools as part of strengthening the education system.

“Cabinet has accorded approval to a Special Recruitment Drive for contractual teachers of SSA and State Pool teachers as regular teachers. The existing service rules will be amended to make the provision for lateral entry of these experienced contractual teachers as regular teachers in the LP & UP schools of the State,” CM Biswa Sarma wrote on social media.

He also said that the decision would benefit about 35,133 contractual teachers and state pool teachers of the state.

Eliminating fines for traffic violations

The government has also decided to eliminate fines for traffic violations for two and three wheelers to reduce undue burden of the citizens.

“….. the Cabinet has advised the Transport Department not to levy any fine on two wheelers in the absence of documents like license, PUC, registration, etc. Not wearing helmets will continue to attract fines. In all such cases, legal action will be initiated as the normal course of action, removing the fine component as a form of penalty,” the CM said.

According to the new guidelines, warnings would be given for violating rules in case of three-wheeler vehicles such as auto-rickshaws, e-rickshaws etc. After four warnings, the authorities would levy fines.

“This decision will benefit a large section of the society like students, gig workers, delivery partners, public transport drivers among others by saving their hard-earned money,” CM Biswa Sarma added.

The cabinet meeting also included decisions to ensure fair prices for markets and for ensuring workers’ welfare.

Ministers Piyush Hazarika, Ajanta Neog, Ashok Singhal, Ranjit Kumar Das, Jogen Mohan, Atul Bora, Keshav Mohanta, Nandita Garlocha, Sanjay Kishan, UG Brahma, Bimal Bora and Jayanta Malla Baruah joined the cabinet meeting among others.

A host of decisions were also taken for welfare of Nalbari district, including sewerage construction, street widening etc.