The Supreme Court on Wednesday questioned ‘Z’ security to industrialist Mukesh Ambani when the government was unable to provide security to the common man.

A Bench of Justices G.S. Singhvi and Kurian Joseph, hearing a petition on VIP security, said had there been security for the common man, a five-year-old girl would not have been raped in the capital.

“We read in newspapers that Ministry of Home has directed providing CISF security to an individual,” said Justice Singhvi, without naming Mr. Ambani. “Why is state providing security to such person when the rich can afford to hire private security personnel? If there is a threat perception then he must engage private security personnel. Private businessmen getting security is prevalent in Punjab but that culture has now gone to Mumbai.”

Harish Salve, appearing as amicus curiae, said Mr. Ambani had in fact sought an arms licence but that was not given. The Centre then offered to provide him security.

“We are not concerned about the security of X, Y, Z persons but about the security of common man,” Justice Singhvi said. Expressing his anguish, he said, “Everyday we read in newspapers about rape of minor girls, five or six years, and such things would not happen if the common man felt safe.” When Mr. Salve drew the court’s attention to VIPs from other States coming to Delhi escorted by the police, Justice Singhvi told Additional Solicitor-General Siddarth Luthra, appearing for NCT Delhi and other Union Territories, that this practice must be regulated.

Mr. Luthra said that normally, as per rules, security was provided to a VIP for 72 hours, if there was proper communication from the State concerned about the movement of the dignitary.

In a brief order, the Bench directed all States to inform the Delhi government of the movements of their VIPs and violation of the rule would be viewed seriously.

Justice Singhvi said a mechanism must be created to assess security threat of VIPs. “Once you stop them from using red beacons, half of their status will go.”

The judge also expressed concern over security cover being provided even to persons who faced rape or murder charges, and said this must be stopped.

The Bench asked Additional Solicitor-General Indira Jaising, appearing for the Centre, to furnish a list of those facing criminal charges being provided VIP security. Unless there was specific information about threat perception, no VIP security should be provided to these persons, it said and posted further hearing to July 9.

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