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You are the best person to solve this issue: SC to Centre

Not feasible to have national-level security guards for judges, Centre tells SC

You are the best person to ensure protection of judiciary: Bench to govt

Our Bureau, PTI New Delhi Published 17.08.21, 08:05 PM
Supreme Court.

Supreme Court. File picture

The Centre Tuesday told the Supreme Court that it may not be feasible and advisable to have a national level security force like CISF to guard judges across the country.

Irked over non-filing of responses by various states, the top court said the reply affidavits can be filed within 10 days subject to deposit of fine of Rs one lakh each with the Supreme Court Bar Association Welfare Fund and failing which the chief secretaries will have to appear before it.


Counsel appearing for Kerala prays for and is granted 10 days' time from today to file counter affidavit, subject to the condition that the said State shall pay costs of Rs 1,00,000/ to be deposited with the Supreme Court Bar Association Advocates' Welfare Fund.

The remaining States which have not filed their counter affidavits so far shall also file the same within a period of 10 days from today, subject to deposit of costs of Rs 1,00,000/ with the SCBA Welfare Fund, failing which we would be compelled to seek the presence of the Chief Secretaries of the concerned States, a bench headed by Chief Justice N V Ramana said in the order.

The bench, also comprising Justices Surya Kant and Aniruddha Bose, was hearing a suo motu case relating to safety and security of judges and lawyers across the country in the wake of mowing down of a judicial officer at Dhanbad and has sought the information from states on steps taken to ensure the safety.

The top court also permitted the apex bar body, the Bar Council of India, to be a party to the matter and also file its response and listed it for hearing after 10 days.

At the outset, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the Centre, said the issue concerning safety of judges is a serious matter .

Referring to the reply of the Centre, he said a mechanism has been there and the Union Ministry of Home Affairs, in 2007, had issued the guidelines saying that there should be special units for looking after the security of judges.

Terming the issue as an administrative one, the bench asked whether the Centre was willing to raise a force like CISF or Railways Protection Force for judges and judicial officers in the country.

"We have said it may not be advisable or feasible to have a national level security force like CISF (Central Industrial Security Force) for judges," the law officer said.

"We have issued guidelines and they are placed on record. Instead of creating a specialised or dedicated police force there is a need to ensure fuller implementation of the guidelines of the MHA by states and union territories (UTs)," he said.

The bench asked the law officer to call a meeting of all the states and take a decision to solve the problem.

The Solicitor General said that the meeting of either home secretaries or state police chiefs may be called on the issue.

"You (Centre) are the best person to get this done. States are now saying they do not have funds for CCTVs. These issues you have to resolve between you and the states. We don't want to call these excuses," the bench said.

Earlier, noting the gravity of the matter, the apex court had asked the Jharkhand High Court Chief Justice to monitor weekly the CBI probe into the alleged mowing down of District and Sessions Judge-8 of Dhanbad court, Uttam Anand by a vehicle on July 28.

The apex court also referred to the alarming situation in the country where judicial officers and lawyers are being pressurized and intimidated, and had said there was an institutional need to create an environment where judicial officers feel safe and secure.

CCTV footage showed that the judge was jogging on one side of a fairly wide road at Randhir Verma Chowk in Dhanbad early on July 28 when a heavy auto-rickshaw veered towards him, hit him from behind and fled the scene. He was declared dead by the hospital.

The Jharkhand government has transferred the probe to the CBI.

The bench had also said: "Apart from the specific incident in question, this Court had also taken up this matter to take note of attempt(s) to resolve the alarming situation in the country where judicial officers and lawyers are being pressurized and intimidated by threats of, and/or actual violence."

"There is, therefore, an institutional need to create an environment where judicial officers feel safe and secure .

On August 6, the CJI-led bench had expressed concern over the incidents of judges getting threats and abusive messages and had said that Intelligence Bureau (IB) and the CBI are not helping the judiciary at all and there is no freedom to a judicial officer to even make such complaints.

It said there are several criminal cases involving gangsters and high-profile persons and at some places, judges of the trial courts as well as high courts are being threatened not only physically but also mentally through abusive messages on Whatsapp or Facebook.

Prior to this, the top court had on July 30 taken suo motu cognizance of the unfortunate sad demise of the judge in a gruesome incident and had sought a status report within a week from Jharkhand's Chief Secretary and the DGP on probe.

The Jharkhand High Court had also ordered an SIT probe into the death of Anand, under the leadership of Additional Director General of Police Sanjay Latkar.

The Jharkhand police had arrested two persons, auto driver Lakhan Verma and his helper Rahul Verma, in connection with the case.

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