Apex court questions 'Z' security to businessmen

Apex court questions 'Z' security to businessmen

The Supreme Court on Wednesday questioned the rationale behind providing security cover to businessmen even though the common man felt unsafe for want of protection.

In an apparent reference to the security cover recently provided to industrialist Mukesh Ambani, a bench of justices G S Singhvi and Kurian Joseph was critical of the government’s decision and said such businessmen could engage private personnel for their security.

“We read in newspapers that the Ministry of Home has directed for CISF security to an individual. Why should a private businessman in Bombay be provided state security? If they want let them engage private security. Why should state security be provided to them? Private businessmen getting security is prevalent in Punjab but that culture has gone to Mumbai,” the bench observed.

The court, however, did not name Ambani. The Home Ministry recently provided him with Z category security following a threat letter to his office in Mumbai, allegedly from the banned Indian Mujahideen.

The business tycoon has agreed to pay the bill for the Z category security, meant for prominent VIPs. Senior advocate Harish Salve, appearing as amicus curiae, submitted that if people like Ratan Tata and N Narayanmurthy received any threat, they could be provided security at their own cost.

The bench said it was not concerned with security cover for any individual but worried about the security of the common man, who felt unsafe even in a city like Delhi.
“It is public exchequer. What about the security of the common man? Everyday, we hear news that a minor is raped. A five-year-old would not have been raped if there was proper security in the capital,” the bench rued.

The court was referring to a recent incident wherein a minor was kidnapped and raped in the same building where her family lived, in east Delhi.

Taking strong exception to the continuance of security cover for various persons with criminal records, the court said it must be withdrawn.

“Why should persons facing criminal charges like rape and murder be provided security at state expense unless there are specific instances based on records of a threat perception?” the court asked.

“We have to create our own mechanism to assess security threat. Security given to private individual facing criminal prosecution must be withdrawn,” the court said.
“We have seen people facing cases under Sections 302 and 376 of the IPC getting state security”.

The bench asked Additional Solicitor General Siddharth Luthra, appearing for the Delhi government, to ensure that those provided state security protection, did not visit the national capital with their personnel beyond the stipulated 72 hours deadline given in the circular issued by Ministry of Home Affairs.

The court noted out that gun-wielding security guards had become a status symbol, citing the example of a Buddhist monk asking for security cover.

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