26 Feb 2008, 0048 hrs IST, TNN
NEW DELHI: For all those who have suffered at the hands of the gun-toting guards of our netas , here is a candid admission from the government itself. In an affidavit filed in Delhi High Court last year, the Home Ministry had confessed that many politicians and VIPs treat "security as a status symbol and therefore desired special privileges...being used as a ground for securing preferences."
Obeying an HC order to inform it on steps being taken to reduce inconvenience to the common man by such security arrangements, the MHA has assured the court that traffic snarls and public harassment due to movement of VIPs guarded by securitymen may come down drastically if the Centre's new policy bears fruit. The Home Ministry claims it's reviewing the security cover of leaders and plans to make it "unobstructive."
The affidavit, filed before the Bench of Justices T S Thakur and Aruna Suresh, says that "due attention has not only been given for making security adequate and effective for protected individuals but efforts have also been made to keep the security arrangements unobtrusive to the extent possible."
The Bench was hearing a PIL, filed by advocate Rajeev Awasthi, on police reforms seeking a division of the force into two wings to deal with law and order and investigation independently. The court had earlier expressed its displeasure over the inconvenience the public have to put up by the overwhelming presence of security guards accompanying politicians at public places. The government, in a sealed cover, submitted the list of protected dignitaries and instructions issued by it to various state governments and security agencies for providing security cover to them.
"Security is provided to two types of protectees, firstly, positional security is provided to persons by virtue of the position they hold i.e union ministers, judges," the affidavit said. "Secondly, threat-based security is provided on the basis of existing threat perception assessed by the central security agencies," it added, making it clear that the threat should emanate from terrorist groups or organised criminal mafia.
The decision to withdraw, reduce or increase the security cover would be taken by two central expert committees which would review threat perceptions to dignitaries from time to time, it said. It was also made clear that no government accommodations would be provided to protected dignitaries.
"After issuance of revised policy, government accommodations allotted to all Central protectees on security grounds was withdrawn except in case of K P S Gill and M S Bitta," it said.
The Bench then posted the next hearing in the nine-year-old PIL to July 22. Earlier, the Bench had taken serious note of the inconvenience caused to citizens due to movements of protected leaders. It had said that if the leaders felt threatened by citizens, they ought to remain in the confines of their homes and offices. The observations had come after the bench was informed that a Supreme Court judge was stopped when he was on an evening walk on a footpath near his house. He was not only asked to get down but was also told to turn his face towards the wall when a political leader was passing through.
TIMES OF INDIA