M A I N   N E W S

Security to VIPs
Reassess threat perception: HC

Says escort and pilot vehicles shall accompany only Chief Ministers, Speaker and Chief Justice
Saurabh Malik
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 23
Protection force for safeguarding class is on its way out. Prima facie holding security cover was more of a status symbol for so many pseudo VIPs, the Punjab and Haryana High Court has made it clear that escort and pilot vehicles shall accompany only the Chief Ministers, the Speaker and the Chief Justice.

A Division Bench has also asked called for changing the feudal mindset and has directed Punjab, Haryana and Chandigarh to reassess the threat perception. Punjab has also been asked to downgrade “security cover keeping in view the threat perception”.

The Bench of Justice Hemant Gupta and Justice Nawab Singh has even suggested to Haryana and Chandigarh to follow Punjab’s suit and withdraw the cover provided to people residing outside.

Punjab had informed the court that security to “protectees other than in Chandigarh and Punjab shall be withdrawn within three months and states where they are residing shall be requested to provide security”.

In the detailed order, the Bench ruled: “The directions shall be operative till such time the states of Punjab, Haryana and Union Territory of Chandigarh frame a suitable policy in respect of use of pilot and escort vehicle.

“Till such time new policies are framed and produced before the court, the arrangements mentioned shall be implemented”.

Fixing March 23 next year as the date of hearing, the Bench observed the list before the court showed “total number of protectees in Punjab is 2197, involving 8261 security personnel. The list also shows the protectees include industrialists, private individuals, student union leaders, members of the SGPC, and members of the media.

“Prima facie, it appears providing security cover to these protectees is more of a status symbol and as a class, without examining the real threat perception. Prima facie, the list includes many protectees, who may not be entitled to security on account of change of threat perception or otherwise”.

Laying down the guidelines, the Bench ruled: “The state government shall review the cases irrespective of the order passed by this court or any other subordinate court. The exercise be completed within three months and the status report be filed before this court.

“Similarly, Haryana and the Chandigarh Administration shall also undertake review of the threat perception to each of the protectees within their respective states and file a status report”.

Before parting with the orders, the Bench observed: “Our constitution provides equal rights and status to all its citizens. The feudal mindset and the right of way does not synchronise with the expectations of the people of this country”.

The directions follow a plea filed by SGPC secretary Raghbir Singh. He had claimed despite threats to him and family, Punjab had withdrawn security.



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