The Supreme Court Friday sought the central government's views on a plea for properly arming policemen throughout the country to enable them effectively combat terrorism.
A bench of Chief Justice KG Balakrishnan and Justice P Sathasivam issued notice to the government seeking its response within a month on a public suit filed by former attorney general Soli J Sorabjee.
The bench issued the notice despite apparently not being convinced that arming the police force alone would result in the protection of citizens from terrorists.
"Is there any country where the public is completely protected by the police?" remarked the chief justice as senior counsel and former additional solicitor general Mukul Rohtagi argued vehemently on the issue.
Rohtagi, appearing for Sorabjee, said the television footage of terror attacks at various places in Mumbai showed that the police was merely armed with batons or at most .303 rifles, which were no match for the sophisticated weapons used by the terrorists.
He contended that policemen did not even have protective gear, including effective bullet-proof vests, which resulted in large number of casualties, including several senior police officers, as they confronted the terrorists.
In his petition, Sorabjee also urged the court to direct the government to impart comprehensive training to policemen in combating terrorism, as well as set up specialised anti-terror units in every district of the country.
The former attorney general also sought establishment of a centralised intelligence system for receiving inputs from and passing them to all states and central agencies.
Sorabjee also urged the court to direct the central government to improve the working conditions of the police all over the country.