Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: After a massive security lapse that left Prime Minister Narendra Modi stuck on a highway in Punjab for 20 minutes on January 5, 2022, the 3-judge bench of NV Ramana, CJ and Surya Kant and Hima Kohli, JJ has observed that the matter cannot be left to be resolved through one¬sided enquiries and 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,   would be best placed to effectively visit all issues and submit a comprehensive report. The Court, hence, formed a committee to be chaired by Justice Indu Malhotra, former Supreme Court Judges.

The Enquiry Committee

Members

  1. Justice Indu Malhotra, former Supreme Court Judges – Chairperson
  2. Director General or his nominee not below the rank of Inspector General of Police of National Investigation Agency;
  3. Director General of Police, Union Territory of Chandigarh
  4. Additional Director General of Police (Security), State of Punjab
  5. Registrar General, Punjab and Haryana High Court

Terms of Reference for the Enquiry 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 Hon’ble Prime Minister or other Protectees?
  • 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.

Other Directions

The entire record seized pursuant to order dated 7th January, 2022, be handed over to the Chairperson of the Enquiry 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.

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 effective completion of the enquiry, as directed above.

Till conclusion of the proceedings of the Enquiry Committee, the enquiries ordered by the Central Government and the State Government shall be kept in abeyance.

What has happened in the case so far?

On January 7, 2022, the Court had directed the Registrar General, Punjab and Haryana High Court to secure and preserve the records relating to Prime Minister’s scheduled tour of Punjab on 05th January 2022.

The State of Punjab had constituted a Committee to carry out a thorough probe. This Committee comprised of a Former Judge of the Punjab and Haryana High Court and Principal Secretary, Home Affairs and Justice, Government of Punjab. The petitioner has however urged that since lapses in the breach of security of the Prime Minister are being seriously attributed to the authorities of the State of Punjab, the constitution of an Enquiry Committee by the State was nothing but an abortive attempt to become a Judge in its own cause.

The Advocate General for the State of Punjab, on the other hand, urged that the Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India has, in a way, already held the officers of Government of Punjab  ‘guilty’  of the alleged negligence and/or breach of security of the Prime Minister. He submitted that none of the agencies of the State Government had committed a dereliction of their responsibility for the security and safety of the Hon’ble Prime Minister, yet there is a smear campaign to discredit the State   Government.

Supreme Court’s Observations

While the lapse regarding the breach of security of the Prime Minister during his visit to Firozpur on 5th January, 2022 is not seriously disputed by either party, the Court, however, did not appreciate the blame game between the State and Central Government as to who is responsible for such lapses.

“War of words between them is no solution. It may rather impair the need of a robust mechanism to respond at such a critical juncture.”

Going through the legislative scheme of the Special Protection Group Act, 1988 as well as the Blue Book the Court observed that the object is to ensure full safety and security of the Prime Minister while he is touring a State. The additional object is to avoid any human error, negligence or any willful omission or commission which may hamper and/or expose the safety and security of the Executive Head of the nation while he is traveling in a particular State. Any lapse in this regard can lead to devastating and serious consequences.

The Court has, hence, asked the Enquiry Committee to submit its report at the earliest.

[Lawyers Voice v. State of Punjab, 2022 SCC OnLine SC 42, order dated 12.01.2022]

 

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: After a massive security lapse that left Prime Minister Narendra Modi stuck on a highway in Punjab for 20 minutes on January 5, 2022, the 3-judge bench of NV Ramana, CJ and Surya Kant and Hima Kohli, JJ has directed the Registrar General, Punjab and Haryana High Court to secure and preserve the records relating to Prime Minister’s scheduled tour of Punjab on 05th January 2022.

As per NDTV’s report, Prime Miniter Modi visited Bathinda for events that included a rally at Ferozepur. However, due to bad weather the convoy took off by road for a two-hour journey instead of flying to the site by helicopter. Around 10 km short of the rally venue, the convoy was stranded on a flyover because of protesting farmers. After waiting for 20 minutes, Prime Minister Modi turned back and left, scrapping all further programmes.

The Court directed the Director General of Police, Union Territory of Chandigarh and an officer of the National Investigation Agency, not below the rank of Inspector General, to be nominated by the Director General, National Investigation Agency to assist the Registrar General, Punjab and Haryana High Court to forthwith secure and seize the records from the State police as well as Central agencies.

It further directed the State Government of Punjab, including the police authorities, the Special Protection Group and any other Central/State agencies to cooperate and to provide necessary assistance in securing and seizing the records. The Registrar General, Punjab and Haryana High Court to keep the records in his safe custody for the time being.

The Court will now take up the matter on Monday, January 10, 2022.

[Lawyers’ Voice v. State of Punjab, 2022 SCC OnLine SC 22, order dated 07.01.2022]


For Petitioner: Senior Advocate Maninder Singh

For Respondents: Solicitor General, Tushar Mehta, and D.S. Patwalia, Advocate General for the State of Punjab

Hot Off The PressNews

The National Human Rights Commission, India has received several complaints regarding the ongoing farmer’s protest. There are allegations of adverse impact on the industrial units, seriously effecting more than 9000 micro, medium, and large companies.

Allegedly, transportation is also adversely impacted, causing the commuters, patients, physically challenged people and senior citizens to suffer due to the heavy congestion on roads.

There are also reports that people have to travel long distances to reach their destinations due to the ongoing farmers’ agitation and barricades have been put on the borders. Accordingly, the Commission issued notices to the Chief Secretary, Government of U.P., Chief Secretary, Government of Haryana, Chief Secretary, Government of Rajasthan, Chief Secretary, Government of NCT of Delhi, Director Generals of Police, U.P., Haryana, Rajasthan and Commissioner of Police, Delhi calling upon them to submit their respective Action Taken Reports.

There is an allegation that there is breach of the corona protocols by the agitating farmers at the protest site. There is further allegation that the inhabitants are not being allowed to move out of their houses due to the blockade of the passage.

Since the agitation involves the issue of human rights whereas the right to agitate in a peaceful manner is also to be respected. The Commission needs to take care of various human rights issues.

Hence, the Commission besides issuing notice to various States has taken the following actions:

1. The Institute of Economic Growth (IEG) is requested to examine the adverse impact of the farmers’ agitation on industrial and commercial activities/production and disruption of transport services on commercial and normal consumers including inconvenience and additional expenditure, etc. and to submit a comprehensive report in the matter by 10th October, 2021;

2. The National Disaster Management Authority, Ministry of Home Affairs and Ministry of Health, Government of India, have been asked to submit reports with respect to the adverse impact of farmers agitation on various aspects and observance of COVID Protocols at the protests sites;

3. In the case of alleged gang rape of human rights activist at the protest site, no report was received from the DM, Jhajjar regarding the payment of compensation to the NOK of the deceased. A fresh reminder was issued to the DM, Jhajjar, to file the report by 10th October, 2021;

4. Delhi School of Social Work, University of Delhi is requested to depute teams to conduct a survey and submit the report assessing the disruption of livelihood, lives of people, impact on the aged and infirm persons due to protracted agitation by farmers;


National Human Rights Commission