There is mainly one provision in the entire Code which talks of payment of expenses to the witnesses, which is contained in Section 312 of the Code of Criminal Procedure :
“312. Expenses of complainants and witnesses Subject to any rules made by the State Government, any Criminal Court may, if it thinks fit, order payment, on the part of the Government, of the reasonable expenses of any complainant or witness attending for the purposes of any inquiry, trial or other proceeding before such court under this Code.”
Thus, any criminal court can order for the payment of reasonable expenses to a witness for attending the court. ‘Reasonable’ is not defined anywhere in the Code. Thus, it can be safely deduced that reasonable expenses would at least be the actual expenses incurred by the witness in traveling to and from the court and would also include the cost of time devoted by him in the court which he would otherwise devoted in his business/ profession for earning money.
As per the section, these expenses, which in common parlance is called diet money, can be ordered by the court only if it thinks it fit. In practice, the courts do order for the payment of expenses to witnesses but the amount ordered is very small amount compared to the actual expenses. If a witness fails to appear before the court on the date and time fixed, he can be sentenced to fine up to Rs.100 by the court under Section 350 after giving him a show cause notice.