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'Blame Game Between Centre & Punjab, Questions Can't Be Left To One-Sided Enquiries': Supreme Court On PM Security Lapse

Srishti Ojha
12 Jan 2022 11:21 AM GMT
Blame Game Between Centre & Punjab, Questions Cant Be Left To One-Sided Enquiries: Supreme Court On PM Security Lapse
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On the breach of security of Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his visit to Punjab on January 5, the Supreme Court of India has observed that there is a blame game between the State and Central Government as to who is responsible for such lapses.A Bench comprising the Chief Justice of India NV Ramana, Justice Surya Kant and Justice Hima Kohli has opined that war of words between the Centre...

On the breach of security of Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his visit to Punjab on January 5, the Supreme Court of India has observed that there is a blame game between the State and Central Government as to who is responsible for such lapses.

A Bench comprising the Chief Justice of India NV Ramana, Justice Surya Kant and Justice Hima Kohli has opined that war of words between the Centre and State is not a solution, and it may rather impair the need for a robust mechanism to respond at such a critical juncture. 

The Court said that there is also a greater urgency to evolve new measures that may ensure there is no recurrence of such lapses in the future.

The Bench has made the observation considering that neither the State nor the Centre has seriously disputed the lapse regarding the breach of security of the Prime Minister during his visit to Firozpur on 5th January 2022.

While emphasising that the questions in the case cannot be left to be resolved through one-­sided enquiries, the Bench has observed that judicially trained independent mind, duly assisted by officers who are well acquainted with the security considerations and the Registrar General of the High Court would be best placed to effectively visit all issues and submit a comprehensive report for the Court's consideration.

The Bench has therefore constituted an Enquiry Committee comprising of the following:

  • Justice Indu Malhotra, a former Judge of the Supreme Court of India­ as Chairperson
  • Director General or his nominee not below the rank of Inspector General of Police of National Investigation Agency­ as Member 
  • Director General of Police, Union Territory of Chandigarh­ as Member
  • Additional Director General of Police (Security), State of Punjab­ as Member
  • Registrar General, Punjab and Haryana High Court­ as Member­- cum­- Coordinator.

The Bench has directed that till the conclusion of the proceedings of the Enquiry Committee constituted by the Court, the enquiries ordered by the Central Government and the State Government will be kept in abeyance.

The Committee has been asked to look into the causes for the security breach for the incident on 5th January 2022, persons responsible for such a breach and extent of responsibility, remedial measures or safeguards necessary for the security of the Prime Minister or other Protectees and any suggestions or recommendations for improving the safety and security of other Constitutional functionaries.

The points of reference of the Committee will be-

  1. What were the causes for the security breach for the incident on 5th January 2022?
  2. Who are responsible for such a breach, and to what extent?
  3. What should be the remedial measures or safeguards necessary for the security of the Hon'ble Prime Minister or other Protectees?
  4. Any suggestions or recommendations for improving the safety and security of other Constitutional functionaries
  5. Any other incidental issue that the Committee may deem fit and proper
"...these questions can't be left to one-sided inquiries. A judicially trained independent mind duly assisted with officers well acquired with security issues & Registrar general of HC who seized records would be best placed, to submit a comprehensive report", the Court said.

The Apex Court has passed the order in a PIL filed by an NGO "Lawyer's Voice" seeking a probe into the security lapse during PM's trip.

The Chairperson of the Enquiry Committee shall be entitled to all the perks of a sitting Supreme Court Judge minus pension. They shall be provided full secretarial assistance, official car and other paraphernalia for the effective completion of the enquiry, the Court added.

On the last occasion ( 10th January) the Court while deciding to constitute an independent committee had asked both the Central Government and the Punjab Government to put on hold the inquiries by the Committees constituted by them in the meanwhile.

Earlier on 7th January, the Supreme Court had directed the Registrar General of the Punjab and Haryana High Court to secure the records relating to the visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Punjab on January 5, during which a security lapse occurred when a group of protesters blocked the PM's cavalcade.

The Court had directed the State of Punjab, central and state agencies to cooperate with the Registrar General and provide entire records immediately. The Court said that both the Director-General of Police of Chandigarh UT and an officer from NIA can be nodal officers.

 

Case Title: Lawyers Voice Vs State of Punjab

Citation : 2022 LiveLaw (SC) 43



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