The Supreme Court has proposed special “permanent security units” to guard court complexes across the country, recalling incidents of gunfire and violence inside court premises.
“It is appalling that court premises in the National Capital itself, in the past year or so, have witnessed at least three major incidents of gunfire. Preserving the sanctity of a court as a space where justice is administered and the rule of law upheld being non-negotiable, it is critical that judicial institutions take comprehensive steps to safeguard the well-being of all stakeholders. Such incidents, that too on court premises, are deeply concerning and pose significant risks to the safety of not only judges but lawyers, court staff, litigants and the general public,” a Bench headed by Justice S. Ravindra Bhat and Dipankar Datta observed.
The court has asked State High Courts to prepare “security plans” in consultation with Principal Home Secretaries, Directors General of Police of the States and Police Commissioners to protect courts.
“The security plan may include a proposal for setting up of permanent court security unit(s) in each complex,” the apex court directed.
Source of manpower
The Bench said the security plan ought to indicate the strength and source of drawing of manpower for these security units, including armed/unarmed personnel and supervisory officer(s) for each unit, the minimum term and mode of deployment of manpower, their list of duties and additional financial benefits, special modules for training and sensitising personnel in matters of court security, etc.
“Would not hope for the litigants who visit the temples of justice dwindle, if the very halls of justice lack the shield of security? How can the litigants secure justice for them when those entrusted to render justice are themselves insecure? These are questions which disturb us to no end, considering certain recent happenings involving firing of gun shots within the precincts of courts in India,” the Supreme Court said in its nine-page order recently.
The Bench said the schematics of CCTV camera installation should be laid down on a district-wise basis where the respective State governments have to provide requisite funds.
The court also stressed the need for digitisation of judicial infrastructure, particularly at district levels.