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Security Provided To The Judges In India With A Comparison To The UK And USA Model Of Security

Sutanuka Sinha Ray
30 Jun 2022 4:15 AM GMT
Security Provided To The Judges In India With A Comparison To The UK And USA Model Of Security
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"Judiciary must be encouraged to find ways and means to regulate its own affairs - consistent with the spirit of the Constitution." – Shri Manmohan Singh The independence of Judiciary is one pivotal concept for delivering fair and neutral judgements. Considering the legal system of India and court as the spine of the democratic framework, judicial independence and the security of...

"Judiciary must be encouraged to find ways and means to regulate its own affairs - consistent with the spirit of the Constitution." – Shri Manmohan Singh

The independence of Judiciary is one pivotal concept for delivering fair and neutral judgements. Considering the legal system of India and court as the spine of the democratic framework, judicial independence and the security of the judicial officers should become a topic of utmost importance. In several instances the judicial officers had to face threat, pressure, blackmail, harassment and many other circumstances which might create adverse implications in the unbiases and effectiveness of delivering justice. And it is a threat towards the whole justice administration system.

Back in 1850 for the first time a protection of judicial officer's act got introduced, but that was only limited to the protection of judicial officers from a civil suit or criminal cases. Then after almost a century later the previous act got reaffirmed and the 1985 act[i] of the Judges protection got introduced. Under this act the scope of the protection of the judiciary made wider, which also includes protection all kind of threats including physical and psychological. Section of the act states,

"(1) Notwithstanding anything contained in any other law for the time being in force and subject to the provisions of sub-section (2), no court shall entertain or continue any civil or criminal proceeding against any person who is or was a Judge for any act, thing or word committed, done or spoken by him when, or in the course of, acting or purporting to act in the discharge of his official or judicial duty or function.

(2) Nothing in sub-section (1) shall debar or affect in any manner the power of the Central Government or the State Government or the Supreme Court of India or any High Court or any other authority under any law for the time being in force to take such action (whether by way of civil, criminal, or departmental proceedings or otherwise) against any person who is or was a Judge."

In addition to the former securities this section has provided some additional securities for the protection of the judges.

During 2019 for the first time India has felt the need of specially trained professional police force for the protection of Justice-Administration system in India. There was an ugly clash between the Delhi police and the Lawyers for petty issue.[ii] The BCI filed its affidavit responding to PIL filed by Karunakar Mahalik through advocate Durga Dutt in 2019 in view of frequent violent incidents inside court premises.

Recently, in August 2021 the murder of the additional session judge, Uttam Anand, in Dhanbad, Jharkhand has shocked the whole legal fraternity regarding the security provided to the judges in the judges of subordinate level.[iii] Aftermath of which, the Supreme Court of India took the suo-moto cognizance of the case. In that case the members of the all India Judges Association, demanded additional security for the judges of the subordinate level. They have argued that the trial judges come in direct contact with the offender, witnesses, and victims frequently. Therefore they should be highly protected and should be granted "X" category security.[iv] They have also pleaded that a specialized should be form under the control of Supreme Court under the scope of Art., 146 instead of police to provide protection to the judges.

The Bar Council of India had humbly suggested through the Plea that :

"There ought to be a specialized security force for the safety and security of the judges, presiding officers, advocates, court officials, litigants/visitors, witnesses and the premises of court for betterment of judicial security". Additionally BCI suggested that the special police force should be in the form like Railway Security Force.

Through the plea the apex court of India also sought from the centre as well as the state to produce properly guidelines for the security and the protection of the judicial officers before the court. In reply to that the centre has completely disagreed and stated providing a special force for the judiciary should exclusively be vested on the state. The solicitor General of India stated before the apex court that the problem of security varies from state to state, the local force of the state should take better care the logistics and the know the functions within and outside the court complex. Solicitor General also emphasized on the fact that the 7th schedule of the constitution makes the police force a state subject.

A COMPARISON WITH UNITED KINGDOM AND USA MODEL OF SECURITY

UK has witnessed a massive threat against the whole judicial fraternity during 204-2015. The threat was both online and physical. It was also considered that the judges were to be given training on the use of social sites against any threat and training for how to protect themselves against an online threat. The Ministry of Justice of United Kingdom stated that public money has been constantly utilizing to provide better security to the judges in United Kingdom. Almost tens of thousands of pounds has been spent for installing tighter security measures at the residence of the top judges who has the fear of for their safety. It was one of the major concerns amid the growing hostility against the judges in the social sites as well as in physical form. [v]

After all these numerous instances which resulted into a threat against the judicial independence and security of judges, a survey was conducted. The survey carries out showed that almost 48% of the female judges and 36% of the male judges feels a threat against their security. The survey also showed that "the survey found 22% of circuit judges, who try the most serious criminal cases, 21% of court of appeal judges and 19% of high court judges feared for their personal safety online." As a result of this survey today the British government gives so much emphasis on the protection of judges in all form. The ministry of justice have upgraded the security in the residential place of the judges as well as at the personal sphere.

Where on the other hand, the United States of America follows one of the most durable and efficient means of policing system for justice administration system. Till date it is known to be one of the sophisticated and effective policing systems. Few years ago USA has also faced several instances where judges and their families were shot dead. As a consequence, judges became fearful, which was a direct threat to the independent judicial system. Whenever judges are fearful it also create an adverse effect on the justice. And justice must be delivered neither under the influence of fear or favour. Hence to protect the justice administrative system, the government of United States of America has constituted United States Marshals Service (USMS), and the Judicial Security Division (JSD). It is constituted for the protection of judicial process "by ensuring the safe and secure conduct of judicial proceedings, and protecting federal judges, jurors, and other members of the federal judiciary." The USMS not only give protection to the judges but at the same time it protects the court officials, who do not fall under the category of judges.

The point of difference lies between the JSD and USMS is that, JSD force mainly provides securities to the federal judges at their place of residence and USMS force gives personal protection to the judges, federal prosecutor as well as to the court officials. Around 2700 federal judges and approximately 30,300 federal prosecutor and court officials are being protected by the USMS forces. JSD managed to maintained residential security for more than 1,600 federal judges. Subsequently, USMS also protect inappropriate communication and explicit threat against attorneys, judiciary and other officials of the court.

PRESENT STANCE OF INDIA

Even after the repeated warning by the Supreme Court and major steps by the appropriate government the threat against the judiciary and security of the judicial authority is still at the position of combination. The centre has shifted the burden to the shoulder of the state government, but the moot question revolves around the effectiveness of the state controlled police force. In regular instances state being the other party in various cases, the police force might get influenced. As a special unit of police force under the state police force to protect the judges was suggested for further consideration, the similar issue might occur in near future.

The district court of Rohini, Delhi has seen massive violence not only once but twice despite of guidelines submitted by the centre before the apex court and several steps taken to upgrade the securities in the subordinate courts. First time the court has witnessed a violent shoot out by the member of organized criminal group. Where several people got injured and some lost their life as well. Second time on 9th December there was a huge blast at the court premises, where the reason behind is yet to be disclosed. From these repeated incidents inside the court premise shows a lack of negligence from the security division itself.

The basic security failure result into incidents like these, which can only be avoided with proper precautions. It can be very difficult for the state police forces to get empowered and provide special training to the officers for the protection of judiciary. And these repeated failures open the eyes.

SUGGESTION BY THE AUTHOR

In India Judiciary holds the supreme power. It is independent and considered of be the back bone of the largest democracy of the world. And the protection of the judiciary is in the utmost of the priority. The frequent threat to the security of the judges is creating an adverse effect to the justice system. Hence one sustainable and effect measure needs to be taken taking reference from the other countries which provide effective means of security to the judges.

From the observation made, the author would like to suggest adoption of a special forces from which can be regulated and controlled by the Supreme Court. A Special Force needs to be constituted which will be empowered to provide protection not only to the judges at the court premises but also the forces will be trained to protect the judges any kind of physical threat.

Apart from the X category security to the subordinate judges who come in close contact with the offender and the witnesses on a regular basis, a security must be provided to be court officials and the prosecutors also while on the court premise. It has been witnessed that innocent officials and civilians lose their life while stuck in a situation of crisis.

It might bring a huge change in this field if the US model of security of the federal judges, get adopted by India. It has a wider scope which brings almost every one of the judicial as well as the legal fraternity under the same umbrella of protection. The state controlled police force is not enough as the criminal activities inside the court premises and against the judiciary started to get increased. Clearly it is a major threat against the democratic structure and the independency of the judges.

In furtherance of that another model India can adopted from the Delhi Administration system itself. The CISF Unit Delhi Metro Rail Corporation is a Central Industrial Security Force unit, specialized in providing the security and protection for the Delhi Metro service. The unit is occupied with specialized bomb squad, and other specialized unit that provide the security exclusively to the Delhi metro services. The International Airports in India also got specialized bureau for the security of the civil aviation. Central armed police force is designated to provide security coverage to 63 national and international airports in the country.

Hence through the research and the analysis the observation made by author is that the adoption of the special force exclusively for the protection of the judiciary, taking the reference from the American model can be the much awaited solution. Also, adoption from the state level models such as specialized agencies like CISF and the airport central armed police force can lead the Indian model of security for the judges much more protected. The central government should adopt sufficient measures to empower them to prevent any kind of threat against the judges, and it is one urgent need of the hour. The state government police force cannot meet that protection needed for the judiciary as already stated by the centre.


The author, Sutanuka Sinha Ray has contributed this write-up during her research assistantship at M/s. Black Robes Legal. The views, thoughts, and opinions, as are so expressed, belong solely to the author, and not to any other person in any manner whatsoever.



[i] The Judges (Protection) Act, 1985 Act No. 59 Of 1985

[ii] Delhi Police, lawyers clash at Tis Hazari, The Hindu, Published on November 03, 2019 01:14 Ist,

https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/delhi-police-lawyers-clash-at-tisn hazari/article29865418.ece#:~:text=A%20major%20clash%20broke%20out,and%20several%20vehicles%20were%20damaged.

[iii] Safety of Judicial Officers vital for independence of judiciary, The Times of India, Published on July 30, 2021; https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/blogs/legally-speaking/safety-of-judicial-officers-vital-for-independence-of-judiciary/

[iv] Plea In Supreme Court Seeks "X" Category Security For All Judicial Officers, NDTV, Published on 3rd August , 2021; https://www.ndtv.com/india-news/plea-in-supreme-court-seeks-x-category-security-for-all-judicial-officers-2501533

[v] Thousands spent on judges' security amid growing hostility, The Gurdian, https://www.theguardian.com/law/2017/feb/27/thousands-spent-on-judges-security-amid-growing-hostility

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