The case of lawyers voice vs State of Punjab & Ors. before Supreme Court drew a lot more attention since it featured the lapse of Hon’ble Prime Minister’s security . In an incident on 5th Jan 2022, on a visit to a district in Punjab a convoy of Prime Minister was struck on a flyover for around 20mins. The State of Punjab constituted a committee to probe into the lapse and Home Ministery had also constituted their own committee to look into the breach of the security. The legal drama unfolded across the committee’s , starting from State of Punjab and simultaneously stepping in at the Supreme Court, which made an order to appoint an Independent Enquiry Committee, in a judgement, as recently as on Jan 12,2022.
The petitioner, an NGO which purports to work for advocates across the country and takes up causes that are in public interest, seeks that this court take cognizance of the above incident and had prayed:
• the court to take cognizance of the serious and deliberate lapse on the part of the Respondent No. 1,2,3, concerning the security and the movement of the Prime Minister; and
• the court shall also direct the District Judge of Bathinda ,to collect all the official documents from all the sources pertaining to the movement & stationing of Punjab police in connection with the earliest knowledge of visit of Prime Minister and produce same before the court; and
• issue a writ of mandamus or any other writ to fix the responsibility of the Respondent No. 2&3 & to place them under the suspension & also direct the Respondent No. 4 to initiate a departmental inquiry against the same; and
• Please to issue any other writ, order, or directions as the Hon’ble court may deem to be appropriate in view of the facts and circumstances of case and in the interest of the justice .
As per the seriousness of the matter, and urgent need to have a thorough investigation into the alleged lapse of the security apparatus, the court took up the matter on 7 Jan 2022 when the court heard Mr. Maninder Singh, Senior Advocate on behalf of the petitioner and Mr. Tushar Mehta and Mr. D.S Patwalia ,learned Advocate General for State of Punjab. The Court, thus passed the order, directing the Director General of Police, Union Territory of Chandigarh,& an officer of National Investigation Agency not below rank of Inspector General, to be nominated by Registrar General, Punjab and Haryana High court to secure and seize the records form the State Police as well as the Central agencies and directing the State Government and Central Government agencies, Special Protection Group to cooperate . After the records are being received, to be seized and secured and to be sealed in the custody of Punjab & Haryana High Court .
On the previous date of hearing, it was brought to the notice that State of Punjab had constituted a committee to probe into the lapse. The learned counsel on the behalf of the petitioner urged that as Prime Minister’s security breach held up in the State of Punjab and inquiry committee is nothing but is an abortive attempt to become judge in its own case .
The State of Punjab, on the other hand, placed the record of copies showing cause notices . The show case notices requires the officer’s to respond within 24hours as to why disciplinary action under All India Services( Discipline and Appeal)Rules, 1969 should not be initiated against them for their omission and commissions . He mentioned that none of the agency of the State Government had committed a desertion of their responsibility and safety of the Hon’ble Prime Minister, yet there is a smudge campaign to discredit the State Government.
The court heard the learned counsel for the parties and studied the provisions of Special Protection Group Act,1988 along with the relevance content of the Blue Book. The Act has a scheme in respect to ensure proximate security to the Prime Minister or a former Prime Minister, or their family members, as the case may be. The Blue book contains an detailed procedure to be followed by the State Authorities and Special Protection Group to ensure full security of Prime Minister while he is touring a state . To avoid further negligence or error, and to expose the safety and security of the head of the nation is the additional object as per the Blue book procedure . The Advocate General for State of Punjab urged that Ministry of Home Affairs had already held the officer’s of Government of Punjab guilty of the breach of security of PM. The Advocate General for State of Punjab stated that the state is more willing to have a independent inquiry of the matter.
It was being observed that it is not necessary to go into the depth of the facts on the lapse regarding to the breach of the security of the Prime Minister’s during his visit to the ferozpur on 5thJan 2022,as it is not fairly expressed by the parties . It is the blame game of words between the Central Government and the State Government regarding the lapse of the security of the Hon’ble Prime Minister.
The learned Solicitor General appearing for Union of India and Advocate General for State of Punjab had also fairly expressed independent inquiry. Keeping in view the submissions, the Supreme Court found it appropriate to appoint an inquiry committee comprising the following:
1) Justice Indu Malhotra ,a former judge of Supreme Court of India – Chairperson
2) Director General or his nominee not below the rank of Inspector General Of National Investigation Agency – Member
3) Director General of Police , Union Territory of Chandigarh- Member
4) Additional Director General of Police( Security ), State of Punjab- Member
5) Registrar General of Punjab& Haryana High Court – Member- cum - coordinator .
The court ordered to submit the report at the earliest and to keep in quiescence the inquiry ordered by the Central Government and State Government. And the chairperson of the committee shall have the power of a sitting SC judge minus pension and they shall be provided with the sufficient security assistance, official car and other accoutrements for the effective completion of the inquiry as directed.
This article is written by Kiranjot Kaur of Teerthanker Mahaveer College Of Law And Legal Studies. The article presents an analysis of the decision of the Lawyers Voice Vs State of Punjab & Ors.