PM Security Lapse: Supreme Court to Constitute Probe Committee Headed by Retired Judge

Team SoOLEGAL 11 Jan 2022 4:12pm

PM Security Lapse: Supreme Court to Constitute Probe Committee Headed by Retired Judge

New Delhi: The Supreme Court said on Monday that it will form an impartial committee led by a retired Supreme Court judge to probe the security breach during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s January 05th visit to Punjab.

In the meanwhile, the Court directed both the Central Government and the Punjab Government to halt the investigations by the Committees formed by them. Today, a bench comprised of the Chief Justice of India, Justice Surya Kant, and Justice Hima Kohli will issue a comprehensive order outlining the makeup of the committee. The bench stated that the committee will comprise the DGP Chandigarh, the IG National Investigation Agency, the Registrar General of the Punjab and Haryana High Courts, and the ADGP (security) of Punjab.

The bench was considering petition brought by the NGO ‘Lawyers Voice’ requesting punishment against the personnel responsible for the security breach. During the hearing, the Court expressed its concern with the Central Government issuing show – cause letters to state officials of the Punjab Government over the security failure, despite the fact that the case was under the Court’s scrutiny.

When the show – cause letters were given to the State Officers, with prima facie conclusions of their culpability over the PM’s security failure, the bench questioned the Solicitor General of India what the objective of the Court’s consideration of the case was.

Despite the Solicitor General’s suggestion that a Central Committee investigate the matter and report to the Court, the Punjab Advocate General voiced skepticism about the Central Prove and urged an independent investigation overseen by the Court.

Senior Advocate Maninder Singh, arguing for the petitioner – NGO, requested that the Committee investigate the possibility of using UAPA in relation to the occurrence, as the Punjab Police FIR only references a minor offence under the Indian Penal Code. In response, the CJI stated, “Let us not compound the problem now.”

Courtroom interaction in detail:
According to Advocate General of Punjab DS Patwalia, the Central Government issued show – cause reasons for disciplinary action to 7 state officers, including the Chief Secretary and the Director – General of Police; they were given just 24 hours to respond to the notifications demanding disciplinary action.

The advocate General contended that the center will not conduct an impartial investigation because ‘there is some politics behind it.’

“I will not get a fair hearing from Central Government. Please appoint an independent committee, and give us a fair hearing…the records have been seized by the registrar general. So where is the evidence? On what basis their (centre) findings have come now? I was given 24 hours till 5 PM on January 08th. Show – cause notice presumes and premeditates everything against us. I don’t expect a fair hearing”, Advocate General continued.

The AG stated unequivocally that it was a ‘severe matter’, and that the officers of the state should be punished if they were responsible for the security breach. “But don’t pass judgment on us because we haven’t been heard. Hang my cops if they are incorrect, but only after a thorough investigation”, the AG stated.

Following that, Chief Justice of India NV Ramana questioned Solicitor General of India Tushar Mehta if the show – cause notices were sent following the Court’s ruling last Friday (January 07th). It may be noted that the Court then verbally requested the Centre and Punjab to halt the investigation processes of the Committees formed by both of them till today.

SG responded that the show – cause notifications were issued prior to the Court’s order. He then walked the court through the requirements of the Special Protection Group Act and the ‘blue book’ for PM security, stating that these rules must be grasped in order to properly examine the situation.

“The convoy of PM had reached the place which was 100 m from the protest per the blue book it would be incumbent upon the officers that the rules are strictly implemented and state government should direct such officers so that there is minimum inconvenience…Crowds started gathering in the morning. There were no inputs from Director General of Police which was his responsibility”, SG submitted.

He said that there was a total failure of intelligence and a breach of procedures. “It must be notified on a continual basis that the route is clear and that if there is barrier, they must halt 4 kilometers away. The state’s warning vehicle was travelling alongside the cavalcade. There was a full breakdown in intelligence”, SG submitted his work.

When there are apparent violations of the SPG Act and the blue book, the SG stated, there is no place for complex hearings and protracted procedures. He also stated that the cops are not in front of the Court. “The fact that the state is protecting them is quite problematic,” he argued.

He emphasized that the Prime Minister’s trip was not unplanned. “The PM was scheduled to go by air on the 5th, but it has been communicated to all state agencies that there are climatic difficulties, and the PM will also travel by road. There was also a dress rehearsal,” the SG emphasized. At this point, the bench pressed the Solicitor General with questions on the Central Inquiry.

Justice Surya Kant asked the SG, “Your show cause notice is totally self – contradictory. By constituting a committee you seek to enquire if there was a breach and then you hold state CS and DG guilty. Who held them guilty?”

“The state and the petitioner wants a fair hearing and you cannot be against a fair hearing, so why this administrative and fact – finding enquiry by you at all?” Justice Kant asked further.

“Asking them to reply within 24 hours, after our order……it is not expected of you,” Justice Hima Kohli said.

“To say ‘it is not expected of you’, is a bit harsh under the circumstances,” the Solicitor General responded. The SG stated that the PM’s security is of the utmost concern, and that the Centre must investigation was launched against the individuals in charge of enforcing the bluebook’s security measures, according to the SG.

“Yes there is a breach and the state has too admitted it. But the other issues are questions of facts and they have to be seen by independent persons,” Justice Surya Kant observed.

“If you want to take disciplinary action against the state officers then what remains for this count to do?” the CJI asked.

In response, the SG stated that if the bench believes that the show – cause notices anticipate the ultimate conclusion, the proceedings might be halted until the Central Committee investigates the problem and presents a report to the Court.

The Advocate General of Punjab, on the other hand, voiced doubts about the Central Committee. “The person heading committee is MHA’s head, MHA has already given a finding that we are guilty, what will it do? This committee is a useless formality. I have no hope from this committee! Please constitute an independent committee,” the AG submitted.

Following this discussion, the bench agreed to form an independent committee.

What Happened on the previous hearing
The Supreme Court had previously directed the Registrar General of the Punjab and Haryana High Court to secure records relating to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Punjab on January 05th, during which a security lapse occurred when a group of protesters blocked the PM’s cavalcade.

The Court had ordered the State of Punjab, as well as central and state agencies, to cooperate with the Registrar General and Provide complete records as soon as possible. According to the Court, both the Director – General of Police of the Chandigarh UT and an official from the NIA can serve as nodal officers.

The Court further instructed the Central Government and the Punjab Government to halt the proceedings of the respective committees formed by them to investigate the security breach till next Monday.

The Petition’s Specifies
The appeal by the organization ‘Lawyers Voice’ has challenged the Supreme Court to take cognizance of the significant and willful lapse on the part of the State of Punjab, its Chief Secretary, and the Director General of Police regarding the protection and mobility of the Country’s Prime Minister.

The petition requested that the District Judge of Bhatinda gather all officials papers and materials relevant to the movements and deployment of Punjab Police in connection with the visit as soon as feasible and bring them before the Supreme Court.

Furthermore, directives have been sought to impose blame on the State of Punjab and its Chief Secretary, suspend them, and direct the Union of India to commence departmental action against them. According to the petitioner organization, it is attempting to draw to the Court’s attention the events that occurred in the State of Punjab on January 05th, 2022, which resulted in a violation of the Security of a high constitutional position in the nation.

Based on press sources, the petition contends that it was definitely purposeful and raises major concerns about national security and the role of the current political system in the state of Punjab.

The petitioner claims that the Prime Minister’s security was compromised in collusion with the Punjab Police, and that only the Punjab Government knew the Prime Minister’s exact route, which is never revealed for security reasons.

As a result, the petitioner has asked that proceedings be commenced against the erring officials and other people responsible for breaking the Prime Minister’s security as part of a pre – meditated, pre – planned conspiracy to violate the Prime Minister’s security and jeopardize national security.

“Considering the prevalent situation, which clearly has a national security implication, the highest standard of security arrangement was imperative and as per protocol, the car for the Chief Secretary and DGP or their nominees of the visiting state is earmarked and supposed to join the motorcade. However, as per the reports, neither chief secretary/representative nor DG/representative joined the motorcade during the movements of the Prime Minister,” the plea states.

According to the petition, stranding a senior constitutional functionary on a flyover poses an extraordinarily high security risk, given the vulnerablility and level or preparation and protection necessary for the Prime Minister’s office.

The petitioner claims, based on allegations, that the local authority was involved in the blocking and security breakdown. “It is clear from the events that private persons were given access to the Prime Minister’s route, and other persons were instigated to join the blockade, which represents a serious and unpardonable breach of national security by the State apparatus and the political establishment of the State,” the plea states.

Tagged: Supreme Court   PM Security Lapse   Prime Minister   Narendra Modi   Punjab Government   Haryana High Court   Lawyers Voice  
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