Published On: Wed, Jan 12th, 2022

To fix ‘responsibility’, causes: SC names ex-judge to probe PM’s security breach

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Wednesday outlined the terms of reference for the enquiry committee, headed by retired top court judge Justice Indu Malhotra, to investigate the Prime Minister Narendra Modi ‘s security breach in Punjab.

Justice Indu Malhotra will head the committee to investigate Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s security breach

A bench headed by Chief Justice NV Ramana and comprising Justices Surya Kant and Hima Kohli outlined five terms of reference for the committee.

“What were the causes for the security breach for the incident on 5th January 2022? Who are responsible for such a breach, and to what extent? What should be the remedial measures or safeguards necessary for the security of the Prime Minister or other protectees?” it outlined.

“Any suggestions or recommendations for improving the safety and security of other constitutional functionaries. Any other incidental issue that the committee may deem fit and proper,” it added.

“A judicially trained independent mind, duly assisted by officers who are well acquainted with the security considerations and the Registrar General of the High Court who has seized the record pursuant to our earlier order, would be best placed to effectively visit all issues and submit a comprehensive report for the consideration of this Court,” it said.

“The additional object is to avoid any human error, negligence or any wilful omission or commission which may hamper and/or expose the safety and security of the executive head of the nation while he is travelling in a particular state. Any lapse in this regard can lead to devastating and serious consequences,” the court added.

The top court studied the provisions of the Special Protection Group Act, 1988, along with the relevant contents of the ‘Blue Book’. It said: “The Blue Book contains an unambiguous and detailed procedure to be observed by the State Authorities and the Special Protection Group to ensure full safety and security of the Prime Minister while he is touring a state.”

The bench said it finds merit in Singh’s that not only are the officer(s)/authority responsible for the above stated lapse liable to be identified, but there is also a greater urgency to evolve new measures that may ensure there is no recurrence of such lapses in the future.

The top court asked the committee to submit its report at the earliest, and directed all records seized, in connection with the PM’s visit, to be handed over to the Chairperson of the committee within three days.

“The Union of India and State Government are directed to provide full assistance to the Enquiry Committee for completion of the assigned task,” it sai. The top court also stayed the enquiries ordered by the state government and the Centre, into the PM’s security breach, till the conclusion of the enquiry committee.

The other members on the committee are Director General, or his nominee not below the rank of Inspector General of Police, of the National Investigation Agency, Director General of Police, Union Territory of Chandigarh, Additional Director General of Police, Security, Punjab, and the Registrar General, Punjab and Haryana High Court-Member-cum-Coordinator.

The top court order came on a petition by NGO Lawyer’s Voice, which was represented by senior advocate Maninder Singh. The petitioner had emphasised on the importance of protection to the PM of the country and urged the court to constitute an independent committee to probe the matter.

During the hearing, Advocate General D.S. Patwalia, representing the Punjab government, complained against show-cause notices to its Chief Secretary and the DGP. He urged the top court to form an independent committee to probe the matter. “Hang me if I am guilty… but don’t condemn me unheard,” submitted Patwalia.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, representing the Centre, defended the show-cause notices issued by the Central government. However, the top court expressed its displeasure at Centre’s stand, questioning what is the point of asking the court to examine the matter if the Centre wanted to go ahead on its own.


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