Punjab and Haryana High Court: In a petition by politician and ex-cricketer, Navjot Singh Sidhu seeking issuance of writ of mandamus directing the State authorities to restore Z+ security which was reduced to Y+ without any notice, Raj Mohan Singh, J. directed State authorities to consider the threat perception raised by Sidhu in the instant petition and take all corrective steps regarding suitable security.
Facts reveal that while Navjot Singh Sidhu surrendered in one-year sentence in road rage case for offence under Sections 304 and 34 of Penal Code, 1860, the competent authority issued a letter on 20-05-2022 promising restoration of Z+ security when Sidhu comes out of jail. However, Sidhu was released from jail on 1-4-2023 and it is alleged that his security was slashed down to Y+ category without any fresh assessment.
The Court pointed at the notice of motion issued on 27-4-2023 on grant of Z+ security due to Sidhu’s political status and threat perception. The Court perused the threat perception report by Subsidiary Intelligence Bureau which rejected any specific input regarding threat to Navjot Singh Sidhu. The Court also examined the review report of security categorization of protectees received through the Additional Director General of Punjab Police wherein, Sidhu’s category was changed from Z+ to Y+ security with total manpower of 11 in a Protection Review Group Meeting held on 29-4-2022.
The Court pointed that the said Review Meeting was conducted prior to order dated 22-8-2022 passed in Om Prakash Soni v. State of Punjab, 2022 SCC OnLine P&H 2028 which required fresh assessment/analysis in respect of threat perception to the petitioners in accordance with the State Security Policy. It further clarified that Sidhu’s security cover had already been slashed down when the said order was passed on 22-8-2022.
The Court finger pointed at the settled principle of law regarding dynamic process of security cover which depends upon periodic evaluation/analysis of threat perception of the individual/protectee by the competent authority. The Court cautiously expressed that slashing down the security may prompt anti-social elements.
The Court considered the pleading regarding killing of singer Sidhu Moosewala by the notorious gang leader Lawrence Bishnoi, whose next targets are named to be MLA Amrinder Singh Raja Warring and Navjot Singh Sidhu.
Thus, the Court directed the State authorities to take note of the abovementioned apprehensions of Sidhu aspecified in the instant petition, take corrective measures regarding suitable security and pass appropriate order within a month. The Court clarified that the issue of security is a State subject, and thus, interference of the Court should be minimal.
[Navjot Singh Sidhu v. State of Punjab, 2023 SCC OnLine P&H 558, Decided on 1-6-2023]
Judgment by: Justice Raj Mohan Singh
Advocates who appeared in this case :
For Petitioner: Senior Advocate Manjit Singh Khaira, Advocate Hanima Grewal;
For State: Additional Advocate General Gaurav Garg Dhuriwala.