J&K HC could not direct security to all sitting and retired judges: SC

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NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court has frowned upon the Jammu and Kashmir High Court’s order directing the state government to provide high level security to sitting and retired judges, including present and former chief justices of the HC.
Senior advocate Rajeev Dhavan, appearing for J&K, said the HC could not have passed sweeping orders covering all categories of judges, especially when security provisions were made according to the threat perception evaluated by specialised agencies.
Dhavan said, “Wherever there will be a threat perception, the security review coordination committee shall deal with the same and provide security cover in accordance with the ‘yellow book’.”
A bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justice D Y Chandrachud accepted Dhavan’s
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arguments and ordered, “The said committee should review the entire security scenario within a period of four weeks and do the needful, so that no one should feel that despite there being threat perception, he has not been provided security.
“We have stated this as we think that the HC in a sweeping manner could not have issued such a direction to the state government to provide security to all categories. The entitlement of security has to arise on a specific principle and that principle is ‘threat perception’.”
The PDP-BJP coalition government through counsel Shoeb Alam had challenged the HC’s order directing the state to provide up to four security guards along with a personal security officer (PSO) to each former chief justice and retired judge of the HC.
The state government had said, “Throughout the country, security cover for VIPs and protected persons is provided on the basis of threat assessment carried out as per the guidelines laid down by the ministry of home affairs, a compilation of which is referred to as ‘yellow book’.” It said determining the level of security and arrangement for protected persons was a decision to be taken by experts and not the judiciary.
“As such, the field is occupied by a detailed policy which contains the procedure for periodic assessment of threats, providing security on the basis of such assessment. It is, therefore, not a subject that is unguided by any executive expert policy” for the HC to step in and issue directions, it had said.
The Mehbooba Mufti government said it was not a case where the HC found fault with the existing security arrangements for HC judges, top law officers, district judges or judicial officers.
The HC had said, “State of J&K is facing great turmoil in view of militancy/terrorists related activities, so there is every apprehension of facing veiled threats to former chief justices/judges of this court. Also, during their service tenure, the judges deal with the cases of militancy/terrorist related activities. So threat perception always remains there with the judges (sic). Therefore, state of J&K cannot be treated at par with other states so far as dealing with the cases of militancy/terrorists related activities by the judges.”

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