Lawyers Voice vs The State Of Punjab on 12 January, 2022


Try out our Premium Member services: Virtual Legal Assistant, Query Alert Service and an ad-free experience. Free for one month and pay only if you like it.

Supreme Court of India

Lawyers Voice vs The State Of Punjab on 12 January, 2022

Author: Hon’Ble The Justice

                                                                            REPORTABLE
                                  IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
                                    CIVIL ORIGINAL JURISDICTION

                                WRIT PETITION (CIVIL) No. 13 OF 2022


LAWYERS VOICE                                                          …..PETITIONER(S)

                                                 VERSUS

THE STATE OF PUNJAB & OTHERS                                         …...RESPONDENT(S)



                                                  ORDER

1. The present Writ Petition arises out of the incident dated

5.01.2022 wherein on a visit to Hussainiwala, District

Firozpur, State of Punjab the convoy of the Prime Minister was

stuck on a flyover for around 20 minutes.

2. Petitioner, an NGO which purports to work for advocates across

the country and takes up causes that are in public interest,

therefore, seeks that this Court take cognizance of the above

incident and has prayed for the following directions:

“(a) Take cognizance of the serious and deliberate
lapse on part of the Respondent Nos. 1,2 ad 3
Signature Not Verified

Digitally signed by
Vishal Anand
concerning the security and the movement of the Prime
Date: 2022.01.12
17:58:05 IST
Reason:

Minister of the country; and

1

(b) Direct the learned District Judge, Bhatinda, to
collect all official documents and materials from all
possible sources pertaining to the movements and
deployment of Punjab Police in connection with the
visit at the earliest and produce the same before this
Hon’ble Court; and

(c) Issue a writ of mandamus or any other writ, order
or direction fixing responsibility of the Respondent
No. 2 and Respondent No. 3 and place them under
suspension and further direct the Respondent No. 4 to
initiate departmental action against the same;

(d) Please to issue any other writ or directions(s) or
orders(s) as the Hon’ble Court may deem fit and proper
in view of the facts and circumstances of the case and
in the interest of justice.”

3. Petitioner contends that the incident constitutes a very grave

security breach that could have had significant repercussions

as it impacts the safety of the Hon’ble Prime Minister.

4. Given the seriousness of the subject matter, and the need to

ensure a thorough investigation into the alleged lapses by the

security apparatus, we took up the matter on the 07th January,

2022 when we heard Mr. Maninder Singh, Senior Advocate on

behalf of the petitioner and Mr. Tushar Mehta, learned Solicitor

2
General on behalf of Union of India and Mr. D.S. Patwalia,

learned Advocate General for the State of Punjab. This Court,

thus, passed the following order:

“1. Heard learned senior counsel Mr. Maninder Singh
on behalf of the Petitioner, the learned Solicitor
General, Mr. Tushar Mehta, and the learned Advocate
General for the State of Punjab, Mr. D.S. Patwalia.

2. Taking into consideration the arguments advanced
by the parties with respect to the issues relating to the
security of WP(C)No.13/2022 the Hon’ble Prime
Minister and other related issues raised by them, we
deem it appropriate for the time being to direct the
Registrar General, Punjab and Haryana High Court to
secure and preserve the records relating to the Hon’ble
Prime Minister’s scheduled tour of Punjab on 05th
January 2022.

3. We direct 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

3
secure and seize the records from the State police as
well as Central agencies.

4. We further direct 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.

5. We direct the Registrar General, Punjab and
Haryana High Court to keep the records in his safe
custody for the time being.

6. The Registry is directed to forward a copy of this
order electronically, forthwith, to the Registrar
General, Punjab and Haryana High Court, the Director
General of Police, Union Territory of Chandigarh, the
Director General, National Investigation Agency and
the Principal Secretary, Home, State of Punjab.
XXXXXX XXX”

5. In deference to the above­stated order, a compliance report has

been submitted wherein it has been stated that the relevant

records have been received, seized, and secured. The same

have been sealed and placed in the custody of the Punjab and

Haryana High Court.

4

6. On the previous date of hearing, it was also brought to our

notice that the State of Punjab has constituted a Committee to

carry out a thorough probe into the lapses that occurred

during the Firozpur visit of the Hon’ble Prime Minister. The

Committee comprised of a Former Judge of the Punjab and

Haryana High Court and Principal Secretary, Home Affairs and

Justice, Government of Punjab. It was urged on behalf of

learned Senior Counsel for the petitioner that since lapses in

the breach of security of the Hon’ble 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.

7. The State of Punjab, on the other hand, has placed on record

copies of the show cause notices issued by the Government of

India, Ministry of Home Affairs, Internal Security­I Division

dated January 06, 2022 to various functionaries of the State of

Punjab including its Chief Secretary and Director General of

Police. The show cause notices required the officers to respond

within 24 hours as to why disciplinary action under the All

India Services (Discipline and Appeal) Rules, 1969 should not

5
be initiated against them for their “omissions and

commissions”. The learned Advocate General for the State of

Punjab 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 Hon’ble Prime Minister. He maintained 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. All the same, the learned

Advocate General for the State fairly offered that the State is

more than willing to have an independent enquiry of the

matter.

8. We have heard learned counsel for the parties at considerable

length and studied the provisions of the Special Protection

Group Act, 1988 (for short, “the Act”) along with the relevant

contents of the Blue Book. The legislative scheme of the Act is

quite comprehensive with respect to ensuring proximate

security of the Prime Minister, or a former Prime Minister, or

their family members, as the case may be. The Blue Book

contains an unambiguous and detailed procedure to be

6
observed by the State Authorities and the Special Protection

Group (for short, “SPG”) 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.

9. It is not necessary for us to elucidate more on facts as 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. There is, however, a 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.

10. We, therefore, find merit in the submission of Shri Maninder

Singh, learned Senior Counsel for the petitioner that not only

are the Officer(s)/Authority responsible for the above­stated

lapse liable to be identified, but there is also a greater urgency

to evolve new measures that may ensure there is no recurrence

7
of such lapses in the future.

11. The learned Solicitor General appearing for the Union of India,

supported the submission of the Petitioner and prayed for a

detailed independent enquiry. The learned Advocate General for

the State of Punjab also fairly expressed his willingness for an

independent enquiry ordered by this Court.

12. Keeping the above submissions made by the parties in view, we

are of the considered opinion that these questions cannot be

left to be resolved through one­sided enquiries. 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.

13. We therefore deem it appropriate to appoint an Enquiry

Committee comprising the following:

i. Justice Indu Malhotra, a former Judge of the Supreme
Court of India­ Chairperson;

8
ii. Director General or his nominee not below the rank of
Inspector General of Police of National Investigation
Agency­ Member;

iii. Director General of Police, Union Territory of
Chandigarh­ Member;

iv. Additional Director General of Police (Security), State of
Punjab­ Member;

v. Registrar General, Punjab and Haryana High Court­
Member­cum­Coordinator.

14. The following are the Terms of Reference for the Enquiry

Committee:

i. What were the causes for the security breach for the
incident on 5th January 2022?

ii. Who are responsible for such a breach, and to what
extent?

iii. What should be the remedial measures or safeguards
necessary for the security of the Hon’ble Prime Minister
or other Protectees?

iv. Any suggestions or recommendations for improving the
safety and security of other Constitutional
functionaries.

9
v. Any other incidental issue that the Committee may
deem fit and proper.

15. The Enquiry Committee is requested to submit its report at

the earliest.

16. Let the entire record seized pursuant to our order dated 7 th

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.

17. 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.

18. Till conclusion of the proceedings of the Enquiry Committee

constituted above, the enquiries ordered by the Central

Government and the State Government shall be kept in

abeyance.

10

19. List the matter after receipt of the Report of the Enquiry

Committee.

..……………………..CJI
(N.V. RAMANA)

.……………………….. J
(SURYA KANT)

.……………………….. J
(HIMA KOHLI)
New Delhi;

Dated: January 12, 2022

11



Source link