Why should cars with red lights get precedence over others, asks Justice Singhvi
Observing that an indiscriminate exercise in providing security to VIPs resulted in abuse of power, the Supreme Court on Thursday directed the Centre and all States and Union Territories to furnish details of expenses they incurred under this head.
A Bench of Justices G.S. Singhvi and H.L. Gokhale, hearing a petition, asked for details of the security provided to family members of the VVIPs, including those with a criminal background. However, it did not seek to know the expenses on the security of constitutional functionaries such as the President, the Vice-President, the Prime Minister, the Chief Justice of India and the Speaker and their counter parts in the States.
Earlier, senior counsel Harish Salve gave various instances to drive home the point that ‘VIP security’, by virtue of positions held and otherwise, was being misused including wrong use of beacon lights.
In Tamil Nadu, the Prince of Arcot was being provided VIP security because of the status accorded to him by the Britishers, who did so for political reasons, Mr. Salve said. “The problem has become endemic and part of our political culture.”
The Bench also directed the State and Union Territories to “provide details of reviews undertaken on the security provided to public and private individuals,” and asked them to file copies of the rules/orders which empowered the police or other functionaries to close roads for VIP movements/visits.
When Mr. Salve pointed out that blowing sirens during VVIP movements created nuisance, the Bench sought replies from the Centre and the Delhi government, but said ambulances and vehicles of security forces would not fall under regulatory measures.
Abuse of power
“If streets are unsafe, then it has to be unsafe for the Secretary of the State also,” Justice Singhvi said. He wanted Mr. Salve to find out the genesis of the ‘red light’ culture. “Every one has a fundamental right to use a public road. Why should those cars with ‘red lights’ get precedence over others? Indiscriminate use of power in placing VIPs in a high dignitary category results in abuse of power. Positional security or security due to threat perception becomes a symbol of power. If power is misused, it runs riot on ordinary citizens.”
Continuing in the same vein, Justice Singhvi said: “Withdraw the offensive symbol [VIP security except for high constitutional dignitaries, medical and uniformed services] of our democracy. Let us treat our citizens on a par.”
The Bench posted further hearing to March 14.