SC slams official security for business tycoons, alleged criminals

The Supreme Court on Wednesday asked the government to explain why wealthy individuals should be provided with official security cover when the average citizen was feeling badly under-protected and unsafe.

A bench of Justices G S Singhvi and Kurian Joseph observed that the rich can afford to hire private security. On the other hand, had the government and police been providing adequate protection to citizens, five and six year olds would not be getting raped.

Although the bench did not name Reliance Industries chairman, India's richest individual, the reference was unmistakable.

"We read in newspapers about the home ministry agreeing to provide CISF (Central Industrial Security Force) security to an individual. Why do such persons, who can afford to pay for security, not hire private security guards?'' the bench asked.

The government's decision to provide Ambani with top-grade 'Z' level security – albeit at his own expense – has been making headlines recently.

The bench was hearing a petition filed by a resident of Uttar Pradesh on misuse of security cover and the red car beacons provided by the government to supposed VIPs.

Continuing its damning indictment, the court observed, "Governments have provided security to a lot of private individuals who face criminal cases ... we are making it clear that the union ministry of home affairs has to take a call soon.

"The state is not obliged to provide security to people facing criminal charges, except when there's documentary proof of a specific threat to their lives," the bench said and asked assistant solicitor generals Indira Jaising and Siddharth Luthra to respond on 9 July .

The court asked all states to provide the home ministry lists of two sets of people - the rich ones who pay to get security from government and those facing criminal charges and are being protected by state police before the next hearing.

Earlier, the apex court had said it would decide whether persons other than high functionaries are entitled to use beacons and sirens on their vehicles in view of the frequent complaints that these are being misused and flaunted by people as a status symbol.

It had strongly disapproved of police protection given to "all and sundry," including MPs and MLAs facing no security threat.

"Security can be given to the head of state, the prime minister, the vice president, the speaker of the Lok Sabha, the chief justice of India, the heads of constitutional authorities and similar counterparts in the states. But why are all and sundry given red beacon and security? Even mukhiyas and sarpanchs move around with a red beacon," the bench had said.