Strongly disapproving of police protection given to “all and sundry,” including MPs and MLAs facing no security threat, the Supreme Court on Thursday directed the central and state governments to furnish in three weeks names of those provided such security and the expenditure borne by states for it.
A bench headed by justices GS Singhvi and HL Gokhale pointed out that only those who are holding important constitutional posts or are facing threat to their lives can be given police protection.
“Security can be given to the prime minister, vice-president, speaker, chief justice of India, the heads of constitutional authority and similar counterparts in the states. But what is seen is [a] red beacon is provided to all and sundry? Even mukhias, sarpanchs move [around] with [a] red beacon,” it said while hearing a petition filed by a resident of Uttar Pradesh on the misuse of red beacons in the state.
The judges recalled a recent incident in Hyderabad, wherein some people died while traffic was held up for about 45 minutes to let a VVIP’s convoy pass through. “Why should the government not take a decision to scrap and make it clear who can use red lights?” the bench questioned. It said families of those given police protection who are “2,000km away” are also being given security cover.
The apex court scoffed at Delhi police deputy commissioner Mangesh Kashyap’s affidavit, which claims that security is imperative to people holding higher posts to “enable them to take bold and impartial decisions”. A furious bench said the document has to be “contemptuously ignored”.
Solicitor general Rohinton F Nariman argued that provision of security cover should not be based on a person’s status, but on the perception of threat.