New Delhi, Oct. 5: The Supreme Court has been told that not a single state or Union territory has amended its motor vehicles rules to restrict the use of beacons and sirens to select constitutional dignitaries despite the court’s repeated directions.
Nor have the states and Union territories provided the details of those they accord VIP security, as sought by the apex court, says a report handed recently to the court.
Such lists are likely to include many people accused in criminal cases, and the states’ silence suggests they are “embarrassed” to reveal the names of those given official security, says the report by amicus curiae (friend of the court) and senior counsel Harish Salve.
It reckons that the states are “particularly embarrassed” to reveal “the basis on which such protection has been provided”.
The report accuses the states of “brazen” violation of the apex court’s April 3 order this year on restricting the use of beacons and sirens to select dignitaries apart from the police, ambulances, fire-fighters and the army.
Such dignitaries are to include the President, Prime Minister, Chief Justice of India, chief ministers and governors.
The report was submitted to a bench headed by Justice G.S. Singhvi which is hearing a public interest litigation seeking the withdrawal of VIP security to “undeserving” people and a check on the indiscriminate use of sirens and beacons. The court could not take the matter up as Salve was not in the city.
The report says there should be particularly strict scrutiny of any grant of official security to two classes of people: those facing criminal charges, and private individuals such as businessmen.
It suggests that someone accused in a criminal case and holding public office may be provided security at the government’s expense if they face a specific threat unrelated to their alleged criminal activity.
But if the threat perception is unrelated to their official discharge of duties, they should pay for their security if they can afford to.
The court had asked that the states provide the list of their protectees to the Union home ministry, which should report to the court with comments. But, the report says, the Centre’s affidavit merely provides the partial lists without evaluation.
The report quotes the Centre as saying that some states — such as Karnataka, Assam, Bengal and Uttarakhand — gave only partial information. At least 10 states — including Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Gujarat, Odisha and Uttar Pradesh — gave none at all.
The report says that Delhi, “which was represented in court when this order was made, did not mark any caveat but unilaterally chose to hold back its list stating that it would give the list in a sealed cover”.