Govt sleeping over MHA directives on courts’ security

JAMMU, Dec 11: Division Bench of High Court comprising Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice Rajesh Bindal today came down heavily on the Government for its failure to implement the guidelines of the Union Ministry of Home Affairs regarding security of High Court as well as District and Subordinate Courts in Jammu and Kashmir despite lapse of 12 years.
The Ministry of Home Affairs had issued guidelines on May 31, 2007 and June 4, 2007 to the Chief Secretaries and Director General/Inspector General of Police of all the States including J&K and UTs for the security of High Courts as well as District and Subordinate Courts.
As per these guidelines, the High Courts in the respective States/UTs had to be declared as High Security Zones.
“It appears that no heed was paid in J&K to these guidelines and these don’t appear to have been implemented”, the DB observed in the court on its own motion while issuing notices to the Government of UT of J&K and Government of India.
The DB observed, “it is the responsibility of this court to ensure effective and fair justice dispensation to the people in the UTs of J&K and Ladakh. Towards this end, it is essential that discipline and congenial atmosphere is maintained by litigant, public, the judiciary, its staff and the members of the Bar”.
“In order to inculcate confidence and to ensure that there is no disruption in the justice dispensation system, we are completely dependent upon the local police which is tasked to provide security to the courts and to ensure that justice dispensation system is not disrupted”, the DB said, adding “however, the turn of events in High Courts and District Courts in the recent past has manifested the inability of the local police to ensure discipline and security which must be maintained in all judicial precincts”.
Stating that security of the High Court as also the District Courts remain extremely porous, the DB said, “we are constrained to notice one extremely significant incident of September 7, 2019 when posters threatening suicide attacks on the judiciary were pasted with impunity in the Srinagar wing of the High Court”, adding “in view of the threat contained, intimation was immediately sent to the Chief Justice of India and the matter of security of all courts was immediately taken up separately with the security agencies of the State”.
“The District Courts in J&K are conducting some of the most sensitive criminal trials in the country and dangerous criminals are being regularly produced for the purpose of their trials. Consequently, difficult under-trials are required to be produced before these courts. However, despite the sensitive nature of work being discharged by the courts, the security remains extremely porous”, the DB observed.
Pointing towards act of locking of the main door of the District Courts by the agitating lawyers, the DB said, “such an act can endanger not only the security of the judges and other persons inside the district complex but also imperil lives in the event of any untoward incident”, adding “from the disclosures made in the reports received from the Registrar General, it is manifest that local police is unable to manage the situation”.
Stating that urgent steps need to be taken to ensure security of all courts in the UTs of J&K and Ladakh, the DB said, “we have been informed that in the Supreme Court and the Delhi High Court the security is provided by deployment of Central Reserve Police Force”, adding “similar deployment of Central Armed Police Force should be urgently made in respect of J&K High Court and all District Courts in the UT of J&K”.
The DB has issued notice to the Government of UT of J&K through Commissioner Secretary Department of Home to produce all relevant circulars of the Ministry of Home Affairs as well as other circulars of the Government of India or the Government of erstwhile State of J&K and the Government of UT of J&K to declare the High Court and District Courts as High Security Zones.
Even notice has been issued to the Government of India through Secretary, Ministry of Home Affairs to urgently consider the factual narration from the perspective of deployment of Central Armed Police Force to provide security to both wings of the High Court as well as District Courts in the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir.