The Centre has recently advised the Supreme Court that having a national level security force like the CISF to guard judges across the country may not be “feasible” or “advisable.”
The Supreme Court was infuriated by the fact that many states, including Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, and Jharkhand, had not filed responses to a suo motu case relating to the safety and security of lawyers and judges across the nation in the aftermath of the mowing down of a judicial officer in Dhanbad.
A three-judge panel comprising Chief Justice N V Ramana, Justice Surya Kant, and Justice Aniruddha Bose gave the states one week to file responses outlining the procedures taken to ensure the safety of judges.The Supreme Court also allowed the premier bar body, the Bar Council of India, to join the case as a party and file a response.
At the outset, the Centre’s Solicitor General Tushar Mehta stated that the problem of judges’ protection is a “serious one.”
In response to the Centre’s response, he stated that a process exists, and that the Union Ministry of Home Affairs issued recommendations in 2007 stating that special units should be established to ensure the security of judges.
The bench referred to the matter as an administrative one and questioned if the Centre was willing to create a force similar to the CISF or the Railways Protection Force to protect judges and judicial officers in the nation. The Solicitor General stated, “We have suggested it may not be advisable or practical to have a national level security force like the CISF (Central Industrial Security Force) for judges.” “Guidelines have been issued, and they have been recorded. Rather than developing a specialized or dedicated police force, states and union territories (UTs) must guarantee that the MHA rules are fully implemented, he added.
The court ordered the law officer to convene a gathering of all states and make a decision on how to resolve the issue. According to the Solicitor General, a conference of either home secretaries or state police chiefs could be summoned to discuss the matter.
The highest court also mentioned the “alarming scenario” in which judicial officers and attorneys are being pressured and intimidated throughout the country, and stated that an institutional need to establish an environment where judicial personnel feel safe and secure was needed.
“Apart from the specific occurrence in issue, this Court took up this issue to take note of attempt(s) to remedy the disturbing situation in the country where judicial personnel and lawyers are being pressured and intimidated by threats of, and/or real violence,” the bench added. According to the report, “there is an institutional need to foster an atmosphere where judicial personnel feel comfortable and secure.”