High court judges cannot be exempted from pre-embarkation security clearance at airports, the Centre has told the Supreme Court, justifying it with a reason.
The courtesy, it said, might be misused and “virtually preclude the possibility of any prohibited or dangerous items being introduced on board an aircraft through such dignitary or his/ her baggage”.
In a statement before the court last week, additional solicitor general Pinky Anand and Rajasthan government counsel Shamsherry Singh said only certain categories of VVIPs enjoyed exemption from frisking. These VVIPs were those provided with twenty-four hour security.
The lawyers told a bench headed by chief justice TS Thakur that the 1,079 HC judges were not VVIPs.
The submission was made during the hearing of the Rajasthan government’s appeal against the state HC’s decade-old verdict that said judges should not be frisked at airports, at par with other Constitutional dignitaries.
Though the top court had in January 2006 stayed the HC direction, the matter came up for hearing before the CJI bench after 10 years. The CJI has reserved orders to deliver a final pronouncement.
Civil aviation operations are highly vulnerable from the security point. Hijacking and other forms of unlawful interference in civil aviation are one of the most attractive targets for terrorists and other perpetrators, the Centre said.
The President, Vice-President, Prime Minister, former Presidents, speaker of Lok Sabha, CJI, judges of the Supreme Court, chief justices of high courts, Union ministers of cabinet rank, governors of states, lt governors of Union Territories, chief ministers of states and Union Territories, ambassadors of countries, chargé d’affaires, high commissioners and their spouses, cabinet secretary besides visiting foreign dignitaries like Presidents, Vice-Presidents etc, are exempted from the security drill.