Court glare on VIP security
Patna, Feb. 4: The high court today came down heavily on the state government, asking it to furnish a list of police personnel deputed to protect VIPs at a time the force is facing a manpower crunch - a hurdle in maintaining law and order.
The list has to be furnished within four weeks, and the court has also directed the government to provide a record of the places the cops are deputed at.
The division bench of Acting Chief Justice Hemant Gupta and Justice Sudhir Singh passed the order on a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by high court advocate Manibhushan Pratap Sengar.
The petitioner requested the court to issue a directive to the state government to minimise, recall and slash the number of policemen, who are deputed as personal bodyguards or security guards at the houses of MPs, MLAs, MLCs, ministers and officers, from more than the statutory provision.
Sengar told the court that when there is a huge deficiency of police personnel for maintaining law and order in Bihar, deputation of police personnel for VIP security was a waste of resources. Lack of policing is more evident in the remote areas where the police force remains unreachable or takes a lot of time to reach, Sengar told the bench.
To buttress his point, Sengar cited figures of the
Bureau of Police Research and Development (BPR&D) according to which the strength of police force required in the state is 85,531 while the actual stands at 59,999.
"How can law and order in the state be properly maintained and the lives of citizens secured in this situation," he asked the bench. "Despite these conditions, more than necessary number of guards have been deputed for the protection of VIPs in the state at the cost of the safety of common people."
Justice Sudhir Singh observed: "It's a matter of concern as to how the state manages to maintain law and order amid these challenges, that a large number of security guards are being deployed for the protection of VIPs."
The bench then directed the state counsel additional advocate general (AAG-6) Anjani Kumar to provide a list to the court stating who all have been provided security and in what quantum. The court also asked the state to inform it as to how many police personnel have been deployed for protection of citizens.
The judges asked the state counsel: "Do you have figures ready?" to which he replied: "We have all the list district-wise." The bench then directed the state counsel to submit it before the court within four weeks.
In 2013, the Supreme Court had ordered all the state governments to furnish details of how many police personnel in their states are assigned for politicians amid a national debate on why VIPs enjoyed lavish security leaving the public largely unattended. The apex court, in its order, had then said: "Why security is given to those who are not in power and against whom cases are pending?"
Sources in the police headquarters said they have a list of over 250 people from various walks of life, who have been provided additional security cover. This, a senior police officer, admitted was a huge burden on the force already facing a manpower crunch. "We have come to know that even little-known businessmen and builders have managed a police bodyguard for themselves," the officer said.
According to a rough estimate, over 10,000 policemen are engaged as bodyguards and house guards of individuals, politicians, businessmen and others in the state.
Sengar, in his petition, has also sought the court's direction for separate arrangements for police in discharging separate duties - maintenance of law and order (policing) and investigation of case together with an increase in the number of personnel, particularly for effective policing in rural areas.