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PM Modi’s Security Breach Hearing: Supreme Court to Form Three-Member Probe Panel Headed by Retired Judge
Supreme Court has agreed to set up an independent committee, to be headed by a former Supreme Court judge to probe Prime Minister Narendra Modi's security breach in Ferozepur, Punjab last week.
New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday agreed to set up an independent committee and directed the Centre to set up a three-member panel which will be headed by a former SC judge to probe Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s security breach in Ferozepur district of Punjab on January 5. The panel will also include the DGP Chandigarh, National Investigation Agency (NIA) IG, Registrar General of Punjab and Haryana high courts. The Supreme Court will name the retired judge and other officers in its order to be released later today.
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The Supreme Court’s decision was announced after the Punjab government urged the apex court to set up a court-monitored probe into the incident. During the hearing, DS Patwalia, Advocate General of Punjab, said that the government has issued seven show-cause notices to the officers seeking an explanation why no action should be taken against them for the incident. Senior advocate Patwalia told the court that the records have been taken into consideration by the Registrar General of the Punjab and Haryana High Court.
A three-judge bench comprising Chief Justice NV Ramana and Justices Surya Kant and Hima Kohli took up the plea filed by an organisation named Lawyers Voice. The plea alleged that Prime Minister’s security breach was a deliberate lapse on part of the State government and stern action should be taken against “erring” officials of the Punjab government. On January 5 (Wednesday), the prime minister’s convoy was stranded on a flyover when he was on his way to Hussainiwala in Ferozepur district to visit National Martyr’s Memorial. His convoy was reportedly stuck due to a blockade by protesters in Ferozepur after which he returned from poll-bound Punjab without attending the planned events, including a rally.
What transpired during SC hearing on PM Modi’s Security Breach:
- Sr Adv Maninder Singh: There have been FIRs registered by the state on the people for stopping the way. Now, this committee appointed by you should be allowed to invoke UAPA and any other offenses. Reacting to this CJI said,”Please don’t complicate this further”
- Supreme Court agrees to set up an independent committee, to be headed by a former Supreme Court judge to probe Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s security breach in Ferozepur, Punjab last week.
- CJI: One retired Supreme Court judge willl head this committee, DG NIA and Punjab Additional DG Intelligence Bureau will be a part of it
- Patwalia: Let the independent committee be appointed. i have no hopes from this committee. with what face will I be going before the committee.
- DS Patwalia for Punjab: The central govt committee consists of three members, one is cabinet secretary, then IG SPG and the director of IB. MHA head is heading this and they are of prima facie opinion that I am guilty already
- SG Tushar Mehta: If you feel the show cause notice pre-empts the final outcome, the committee of central govt examine the issue and report to court and till then the committee will not act upon the notice. I think this is the fair.
- SG Tushar Mehta:: This cannot be decided by the state… let the committee members comprising of cabinet secretary, DG SPG etc look into this and report in 3 weeks. In this case of PM Security, the central govt officers should be allowed to examine
- Justice Hima Kohli: When you issued the notice it was before our order and after that, we passed our order. you ask them to reply in 24 hours is not expected of you
- Justice Surya Kant: Yes, there is a breach and the state has admitted it too. But the other issues are a question of facts and it has to be seen by an independent persons.
- SG Tushar Mehta: The basis of this show cause notice is that there is a provision in the blue book that director-general and intelligence officials are responsible. there is no dispute about this. there was no prewarning about the blockade,..if rules say DGP is responsible then it’s as per blue book
- Justice Surya Kant: The DG and CS are a party before us and we will come to know who is responsible for the lapse. the state and petitioner want a fair hearing and you cannot be against a fair hearing. so why this administrative and fact-finding inquiry by you at all? Your show cause notice is totally self-contradictory. By constituting the committee you seek to enquire if there was a breach of the SPG act and then you hold state CS and DG guilty. who held them guilty?
- SG Tushar Mehta: There was a complete intelligence failure. Punjab Police DG was supposed to give clear communication to the PM’s convoy. There has been a clear violation of the SPG Act. The police officials are responsible. Its very serious that the state is defending them. A central committer had to be formed
- Justice Hima Kohli: The impression by issuing the show cause notice you show that you have decided how will you go ahead. So why should this court go into the matter at all
- Bench of CJI NV Ramana, Justice Surya Kant and Justice Hima Kohli begins hearing the plea.
- Supreme Court lawyers receive anonymous call taking responsibility for PM Modi security breach; the caller also threatened Supreme Court not to hear the case.
Senior advocate Maninder Singh appearing for petitioner Lawyers’ Voice told the Supreme Court that the breach in Prime Minister’s security is not merely a law and order problem, it falls under Special Protection Groups (SPG) Act. Singh says it is the duty of Centre and State or the Union Territory and other local authorities to act in aid of the director of any member of the SPG. Under the SPG Act, it is not an issue of state subject or law and order. “The issue of Prime Minister protection is a national security issue and comes under parliamentary purview,” Singh said on Friday in the Court.
Earlier on Friday, the apex court had directed the Registrar General of the Punjab and Haryana High Court to “secure and preserve” the records pertaining to arrangements made for the prime minister’s visit to Punjab when there was a “massive security breach”. It had also said the inquiry committees set up separately by the state and central governments will hold their horses and not proceed with their respective inquiries till January 10 when the matter will be taken up again by the court. The bench, however, did not dictate it as part of the order and had asked the counsels to convey their feelings to the authorities.
The Registrar General of the High Court will be assisted by the Director-General of Police, the Union Territory of Chandigarh, and an officer of the National Investigation Agency not below the rank of Inspector General in securing the requisite records from the state government, its police and central agencies, the bench had said.
The plea has sought a thorough investigation into the breach in Prime Minister Modi’s security in Punjab to ensure there is no such event in the future. It has also sought the preservation of evidence on security arrangements, court-monitored probe and action against erring officials of the Punjab government responsible for the alleged lapse.