Rajasthan High Court order not to frisk judges in airports stayed

Legal Correspondent

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Friday stayed a judgment of the Rajasthan High Court that directed the Union Government and airport authorities to exempt High Court Judges from security checks before boarding flights.

A three-member Bench, comprising Chief Justice Y.K. Sabharwal, Justice C.K. Thakker and Justice R.V. Raveendran, after hearing Solicitor-General G.E. Vahanvati, granted the stay while admitting a special leave petition filed by the Centre seeking quashing of the impugned judgment.

The Bench, after finding from the VIP list that Robert Vadra, husband of Priyanka Gandhi had been exempted from such security checks, asked Mr. Vahanvati whether exemption from mandatory airport security check could be extended to the spouse of a person who had been provided with it.

The Bench, after perusing the list, told Mr. Vahanvati that there was no problem in exempting the first 20 VIPs as per the norms of the Bureau of Civil Aviation Security. But Robert Vadra, whose name was listed as 21, was found having been granted similar exemptions from pre embarkation security checks at airports. The Bench, therefore, asked Mr. Vahanvati to find out "why Mr. Vadra has been granted this exemption. Tell us which other spouse is given this exemption."

In its SLP, the Centre said exemption from pre embarkation security checks was not only based on the Warrant of Precedence but also based on compelling factors such as level of government security coverage on the dignitary which would virtually preclude the possibility of any prohibited/dangerous items from being introduced on board an aircraft through dignitary, his or her baggage.

The SLP said the VIP list prepared in August last year covered Chief Justices of High Courts and did not include Judges.

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