Lawyers Voice vs State of Punjab - Supreme Court Case

Lawyers Voice vs State of Punjab - Supreme Court Case on Prime Minister Security Breach / Lapse during Punjab visit

1.    The   present   Writ   Petition   arises   out   of   the   incident   dated
5.01.2021   wherein   on   a   visit   to   Hussainiwala,   District
Firozpur, State of Punjab the convoy of the Prime Minister was
stuck on a flyover for around 20 minutes. 
2.   Petitioner, an NGO which purports to work for advocates across
the country and takes up causes that are in public interest,
therefore, seeks that this Court take cognizance of the above
incident and has prayed for the following directions:
“(a) Take   cognizance   of   the   serious   and   deliberate
lapse   on   part   of   the   Respondent   Nos.   1,2   ad   3
concerning the security and the movement of the Prime
Minister of the country; and
(b) Direct   the   learned   District   Judge,   Bhatinda,   to
collect   all  official  documents  and  materials  from   all
possible   sources   pertaining   to   the   movements   and
deployment   of   Punjab   Police   in   connection   with   the
visit at the earliest and produce the same before this
Hon’ble Court; and 
(c) Issue a writ of mandamus or any other writ, order
or   direction   fixing   responsibility   of   the   Respondent
No. 2 and Respondent No. 3 and place them under
suspension and further direct the Respondent No. 4 to
initiate departmental action against the same;
(d) Please to issue any other writ or directions(s) or
orders(s) as the Hon’ble Court may deem fit and proper
in view of the facts and circumstances of the case and
in the interest of justice.”
3.   Petitioner  contends that the incident constitutes a very grave
security breach that could have had significant repercussions
as it impacts the safety of the Hon’ble Prime Minister. 
4.   Given the seriousness of the subject matter, and the need to
ensure a thorough investigation into the alleged lapses by the
security apparatus, we took up the matter on the 07th January,
2022 when we heard Mr. Maninder Singh, Senior Advocate on
behalf of the petitioner and Mr. Tushar Mehta, learned Solicitor
General on behalf of Union of India and Mr. D.S. Patwalia,
learned Advocate General for the State of Punjab.  This Court,
thus, passed the following order:
“1. Heard learned senior counsel Mr. Maninder Singh
on   behalf   of   the   Petitioner,   the   learned   Solicitor
General, Mr. Tushar Mehta, and the learned Advocate
General for the State of Punjab, Mr. D.S. Patwalia.
2. Taking into consideration the arguments advanced
by the parties with respect to the issues relating to the
security   of   WP(C)No.13/2022   the   Hon’ble   Prime
Minister and other related issues raised by them, we
deem it appropriate for the time being to direct the
Registrar General, Punjab and Haryana High Court to
secure and preserve the records relating to the Hon’ble
Prime   Minister’s   scheduled   tour   of   Punjab   on   05th
January 2022.
3.   We   direct   the   Director   General   of   Police,   Union
Territory of Chandigarh and an officer of the National
Investigation Agency, not below the rank of Inspector
General,   to   be   nominated   by   the   Director   General,
National Investigation Agency to assist the Registrar
General, Punjab and Haryana High Court to forthwith
secure and seize the records from the State police as
well as Central agencies.
4. We further direct the State Government of Punjab,
including the police authorities, the Special Protection
Group   and   any   other   Central/State   agencies   to
cooperate   and   to   provide   necessary   assistance   in
securing and seizing the records.
5.   We   direct   the   Registrar   General,   Punjab   and
Haryana High Court to keep the records in his safe
custody for the time being.
6. The Registry is directed to forward a copy of this
order   electronically,   forthwith,   to   the   Registrar
General, Punjab and Haryana High Court, the Director
General of Police, Union Territory of Chandigarh, the
Director General, National Investigation Agency and
the Principal Secretary, Home, State of Punjab.
5.   In deference to the above­stated order, a compliance report has
been submitted wherein it has been stated that the relevant
records have been received, seized, and  secured. The same
have been sealed and placed in the custody of the Punjab and
Haryana High Court. 
6.   On the previous date of hearing, it was also brought to our
notice that the State of Punjab has constituted a Committee to
carry   out   a   thorough   probe   into   the   lapses   that   occurred
during the Firozpur visit of the Hon’ble Prime Minister. The
Committee comprised of a Former Judge of the Punjab and
Haryana High Court and Principal Secretary, Home Affairs and
Justice,   Government   of   Punjab.   It   was   urged   on   behalf   of
learned Senior Counsel for the petitioner that since lapses in
the breach of security of the Hon’ble Prime Minister are being
seriously attributed to the authorities of the State of Punjab,
the constitution of an Enquiry Committee by the State was
nothing but an abortive attempt to become a Judge in its own
7.   The State of Punjab, on the other hand, has placed on record
copies of the show cause notices issued by the Government of
India,   Ministry   of   Home   Affairs,   Internal   Security­I  Division
dated January 06, 2022 to various functionaries of the State of
Punjab including its Chief Secretary and Director General of
Police. The show cause notices required the officers to respond
within 24 hours as to why disciplinary action under the All
India Services (Discipline and Appeal) Rules, 1969 should not
be   initiated   against   them   for   their   “omissions   and
commissions”. The learned Advocate General for the State of
Punjab urged that the Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of
India has, in a way, already held the officers of Government of
Punjab   ‘guilty’   of   the   alleged   negligence   and/or   breach   of
security   of  the   Hon’ble   Prime   Minister.   He   maintained   that
none of the agencies of the State Government had committed a
dereliction of their responsibility for the security and safety of
the Hon’ble Prime Minister, yet there is a smear campaign to
discredit   the   State   Government.   All   the   same,   the   learned
Advocate General for the State fairly offered that the State is
more   than   willing   to   have   an   independent   enquiry   of   the
8.   We have heard learned counsel for the parties at considerable
length   and   studied   the   provisions   of   the   Special   Protection
Group Act, 1988 (for short, “the Act”) along with the relevant
contents of the Blue Book. The legislative scheme of the Act is
quite   comprehensive   with   respect   to   ensuring   proximate
security of the Prime Minister, or a former Prime Minister, or
their family members, as the case may be. The Blue Book
contains   an   unambiguous   and   detailed   procedure   to   be
observed by the State Authorities and the Special Protection
Group (for short, “SPG”) to ensure full safety and security of
the Prime Minister while he is touring a State. The additional
object is to avoid any human error, negligence or any willful
omission or commission which may hamper and/or expose the
safety and security of the Executive Head of the nation while he
is traveling in a particular State. Any lapse in this regard can
lead to devastating and serious consequences.
9.   It is not necessary for us to elucidate more on facts as the lapse
regarding  the breach of security of the Prime Minister during
his  visit   to  Firozpur   on   5th  January,   2022   is   not   seriously
disputed by either party.  There is, however,  a blame game
between   the   State   and   Central   Government   as   to   who   is
responsible for such lapses. War of words between them is no
solution. It may rather impair the need of a robust mechanism
to respond at such a critical juncture.
10. We, therefore, find merit in the submission of Shri Maninder
Singh, learned Senior Counsel for the petitioner that not only
are   the   Officer(s)/Authority   responsible  for   the  above­stated
lapse liable to be identified, but there is also a greater urgency
to evolve new measures that may ensure there is no recurrence
of such lapses in the future. 
11. The learned Solicitor General appearing for the Union of India,
supported the submission of the Petitioner and prayed for a
detailed independent enquiry. The learned Advocate General for
the State of Punjab also fairly expressed his willingness for an
independent enquiry ordered by this Court. 
12. Keeping the above submissions made by the parties in view, we
are of the considered opinion that these questions cannot be
left to be resolved through one­sided enquiries. A judicially
trained independent mind, duly assisted by officers who are
well   acquainted   with   the   security   considerations   and   the
Registrar General of the High Court who has seized the record
pursuant   to   our   earlier   order,   would   be   best   placed   to
effectively visit all issues and submit a comprehensive report
for the consideration of this Court. 
13. We   therefore   deem   it   appropriate   to   appoint   an   Enquiry
Committee comprising the following:
i. Justice Indu Malhotra, a former Judge of the Supreme
Court of  India­ Chairperson;
ii. Director General or his nominee not below the rank of
Inspector  General of  Police of  National  Investigation
Agency­ Member;
iii. Director   General   of   Police,   Union   Territory   of
Chandigarh­ Member;
iv. Additional Director General of Police (Security), State of
Punjab­ Member;
v. Registrar General, Punjab and Haryana High CourtMember­cum­Coordinator.
14. The   following   are   the   Terms   of   Reference   for   the   Enquiry
i. What were the causes for the security breach for the
incident on 5th January 2022?
ii. Who are responsible for such a breach, and to what
iii. What should be the remedial measures or safeguards
necessary for the security of the Hon’ble Prime Minister
or other Protectees? 
iv. Any suggestions or recommendations for improving the
safety   and   security   of   other   Constitutional
v. Any other incidental issue that the  Committee may
deem fit and proper.
15. The Enquiry Committee is requested to submit its report at
the earliest.
16.    Let the entire record seized pursuant to our order dated 7th
January,   2022,   be   handed   over   to   the   Chairperson   of   the
Enquiry Committee within three days. The Union of India and
State Government are directed to provide full assistance to the
Enquiry Committee for completion of the assigned task.
17. The Chairperson of the Enquiry Committee shall be entitled to
all the perks of a sitting Supreme Court Judge minus pension.
They shall be provided full secretarial assistance, official car
and other paraphernalia for effective completion of the enquiry,
as directed above.
18. Till conclusion of the proceedings of the Enquiry Committee
constituted   above,   the   enquiries   ordered   by   the   Central
Government   and   the   State   Government   shall   be   kept   in
19.   List  the  matter  after receipt  of the Report of  the  Enquiry
.……………………….. J 
.……………………….. J
New Delhi;
Dated: January 12, 2022


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