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Rohini court shootout: Plea in Supreme Court seeks enhanced security measures for legal fraternity

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In the wake of shootout at the Rohini Court Complex, which led to death of three people and injury to a woman lawyer on Friday, a petition has been filed in the Supreme Court, seeking security measures in subordinate courts.

The application, filed by Advocate Vishal Tiwari through in-person in a pending PIL, sought directions for the protection of judicial officers, Advocates and legal fraternity as a whole, to enforce the Right to Life and Safety, as enshrined under Article 21 of the Constitution.

According to the application, “The Subordinate Courts in our country have, on several occasions, turned into a place of crime as recently on September 24, 2021, the shootout in Rohini court of Delhi is an example. Two armed men opened fire inside Delhi’s Rohini court on Friday, killing dreaded jailed gangster Jitender Maan alias Gogi. Members of the Delhi Police Special Cell’s Counter Intelligence team, who were accompanying Gogi, shot dead the assailants, with 27 bullets in all fired inside the courtroom. In a major security lapse, the men — believed to belong to a rival gang headed by Sunil alias Tillu Tajpuriya — managed to sneak into the courtroom with a .38 bore pistol and another of .30 bore posing as lawyers. Gogi received five-six bullet injuries, and was taken to a nearby hospital, where he was declared dead.

While alleging that it is not the first incident, wherein the Subordinate courts have witnessed such killing and attacks, Tiwari mentioned that in December 2019, a man accused of double murder was shot dead inside a courtroom in western Uttar Pradesh, as court proceedings were going on. The shooting occurred during the production of prisoner Shanawaz Ansari before the Chief Judicial Magistrate at the Bijnor district court.

Similarly in October 2017, two men accused of murdering a Bhartiya Janshakti Party leader in 2008 were shot at and critically injured inside a courtroom in Barwani district of Madhya Pradesh. On January 24, 2017, 57-year-old lawyer Subhash Gupta was murdered in broad daylight in Hisar town of Haryana on Tuesday afternoon, when he was on his way to home from the court complex.

The petitioner further alleged that not only there have been murders and killings, but there have incidents where one party has attacked and injured their rival and opposite litigant in order to pressurise, terrorise and compel the other party for compromise.

“The litigants, who fight for a right cause and justice, are targeted and become victims of violence in the court premises when they attend the court hearings. The lone litigants are attacked by mobs or gangs with the motive that they will in fear leave the litigation. The atmosphere of our subordinate courts has become very dangerous for litigants.

“Such incidents are not only a threat to our Judicial officers, lawyers and people present in the court premises, but it is also a threat to our justice system. The court is a place where people are in the shelter of law, but they fall victim in courts of unlawful activities,” said the petition.

Tiwari emphasised that apart from securing the person of judges and judicial officers against any threat to life, it is also important that the premises of the courts and entire court complex are secured against any attack by the militants or other criminals.

“With hundreds of cases to be disposed of, there are always huge crowds in the court complex and in the halls where litigants, lawyers, court staff, judges, visitors, witnesses and many others have to come, meet, talk and examine. In such a situation, security becomes vulnerable, if adequate measures are not in place. It is easy for the criminals to mix up in the crowds to hide their identity and then cause a grave situation, disrupting the peaceful environment in which the judges are supposed to carry out their work,” it added.

In lights of above facts, Advocate Tewari prayed for the following directions:-

i. The Union and all respondents/respective States shall take immediate steps and measures for the security of Subordinate Courts in their regions.
ii. The hardcore criminals/dreaded gangsters, instead of producing them physically in the trial courts, may be produced through video-conferencing before the trial courts from jails;
iii. The remote areas and several district courts of the respective states do not have any kind of Armed police post, which may keep vigil during the court hours and act as a security to the judges, lawyers, court staff and litigants. The Directions may be issued to the respective States for Opening the Armed police post in the District Court Complexes and also at the Taluka level judiciary. 
iv. There are many District courts which do not have CCTV Cameras. Such security and CCTV Cameras shall be installed in the District Court complexes of our Country , So that every incident may be caught in its true Scene and occurrence. 
v. In the rural areas and District Courts, many litigants come with their aides in large numbers, in order to pressurise the other side. Such unwanted mobs or persons shall not be permitted with any litigant in the Court premises.

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