In a setback to the Mulayam Singh Yadav government, the Supreme Court on Monday refused to interfere with an Allahabad High Court order for withdrawal of state security provided to various persons including politicians, contractors and student leaders with criminal background.
A Bench of Justice SB Sinha and Justice Markandey Katju said the state government could review the security provided to about 2200 such persons and bring it to the notice of the High Court. “We are sure appropriate orders would be passed by the High Court,” it said.
Senior counsel Rajiv Dhavan had argued on behalf of Uttar Pradesh Government that the state was going to polls and the blanket order by the High Court at this juncture for withdrawing the security of various people without assessing the threat posed to them would put their life in danger.
However, despite repeated requests from Dhavan, the Bench declined to interfere with the December 13, 2006 order of the High Court and made some harsh comments about the security situation in the state.
When Dhavan submitted that there should not be a blanket order without proper application of mind like the one passed by the High Court, the court shot back: "What about the threat to the common people in UP? Only VIPs have the right to life under Article 21 of the Constitution. The level of hooliganism has reached the maximum level… Police are supposed to protect the public…What about public? Have you thought of them?," the Bench asked.
Justice Katju observed that even in Delhi half the policemen were on VIP security duty and there were very less personnel left for the security of the common people.
He sought to know why should a politician need security cover at all. “Pandit Nehru did not have this kind of security cover…the best security cover is your deeds… Better do good things you will not require security,” Justice Katju observed.
There are about 2,200 persons provided gunners by the Uttar Pradesh Government. Most of them are facing criminal cases. Over 730 have already lost the security cover following the order of the High Court, which is scheduled to hear the matter on Tuesday.
Earlier, the State Government told the court in an additional affidavit that it derived power from Article 166 of the Constitution to make rules for providing security to various categories of people. It said that the state cabinet approved its policy in this regard in April 2001.
The affidavit was filed in response to the court’s January 25 directive to explain the legal basis of its policy on providing security to politicians and student leaders with criminal background.
“It is not the Chief Minister’s personal property. It is governed by statutory rules,” the Bench had observed.
On a petition filed by one Gayur Hasan, the HC had asked the State Government to withdraw the gunners provided to student leaders within 24 hours while giving four weeks to take back the security cover from political workers, contractors and criminal elements. The order had come within days of sine die closure of Lucknow University due to student unrest.
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