New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Wednesday said the provisions of the Special Protection Group Act and contents of the Blue Book are "comprehensive" in ensuring proximate security of the prime minister and other SPG protectees and any lapse in following these can lead to "devastating and serious consequences".
These observations on presence of adequate legal and other procedural schemes for ensuring security of the prime minister and other SPG protectees were made in an order by which a five-member committee headed by former apex court judge Indu Malhotra has been set up to to probe the security breach during Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit to Punjab on January 5.
"We have heard counsel for the parties at considerable length and studied the provisions of the Special Protection Group Act, 1988 along with the relevant contents of the Blue Book. The legislative scheme of the Act is quite comprehensive with respect to ensuring proximate security of the Prime Minister, or a former Prime Minister, or their family members, as the case may be," the bench headed by Chief Justice N V Ramana noted.
The Blue Book contains an unambiguous and detailed procedure to be observed by the state authorities and the special protection to ensure full safety and security of the prime minister while he is touring a state, the order said.
"The additional object is to avoid any human error, negligence or any willful omission or commission which may hamper and/or expose the safety and security of the Executive Head of the of the nation while he is travelling in a particular State. Any lapse in this regard can lead to devastating and serious consequences," ordered the bench which also comprised justices Surya Kant and Hima Kohli.
The apex court, while appointing the panel, took note of the war of words between the Centre and the Punjab government which set up two parallel inquiry panels to probe the security breach.
"On the previous date of hearing, it was also brought to our notice that the state of Punjab has constituted a committee to carry out a thorough probe into the lapses that occurred during the Firozepur visit of the hon'ble prime minister," it said.
The committee comprised a former judge of the Punjab and Haryana High Court and principal secretary, Home Affairs and Justice, government of Punjab, it said.
It was urged on that since the lapses in the breach of security of the prime minister are being seriously attributed to the authorities of Punjab, the constitution of an enquiry committee by the state was nothing but an abortive attempt to become a judge in its own cause, it said.
The apex court also took note of rival submissions of the Punjab government that show cause notices have been issued by the panel, set up by the Centre, to various functionaries of the state government including its chief secretary and Director General of Police.
"The show cause notices required the officers to respond within 24 hours as to why disciplinary action under the All India Services (Discipline and Appeal) Rules, 1969 should not be initiated against them for their omissions and commissions," it noted while setting up the Justice Malhotra panel.
On January 5, Modi's convoy was stranded on a flyover due to a blockade by protesters in Ferozepur after which he returned from Punjab without attending any event, including a rally.
The top court's order has come on the plea of an organisation, Lawyers Voice, seeking a thorough investigation into the breach in Modi's security in Punjab to ensure there is no such incident in the future. PTI