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Judges’ safety: Supreme Court grants states, UTs a week to file counter-affidavits in suo motu PIL

The Centre told the Supreme Court that it has already issued guidelines for the safety of judges. With security being the matter in the State list, it is the State’s prerogative to implement those guidelines, it said.

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The Supreme Court on Tuesday heard the suo motu PIL filed over the mounting concerns about the dangers faced by the subordinate judiciary, especially trial judges, in the line of duty.

The Centre told the Supreme Court that it has already issued guidelines for the safety of judges. With security being the matter in State list, it is the State’s prerogative to implement those guidelines, it said.

The Bench, headed by Chief Justice N.V. Ramana and comprising Justices Surya Kant and Aniruddha Bose, stated in its order, “One week time given to file counter-affidavits. Bar Council of India is also permitted to file an affidavit within a week. Chief Secretaries to remain present in case affidavits are not submitted. Costs of Rs 1 lakh to be imposed on states who fail to file a counter affidavit within a week.”

Appearing for the Central government, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta said the Union Ministry of Home Affairs had already issued guidelines for the safety of judges back in 2007. “The security of courts is better left to states, as it requires day-to-day coordination with the local police. From a coordination point of view, the deployment of local police is advisable. There can be state-specific issues. The state police are better equipped to deal with surveillance off criminals, intelligence regarding threat etc. it has to be state-specific instead of country specify,” he submitted.

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CJI Ramana then said, “You can call states and take a decision on how the problem will be dealt with.”

Thereafter, Justice Kant weighed in, saying, “Guidelines are fine…criminal habits are different etc. The question is whether these guidelines are followed or not for the protection of judges, courts, etc. The burden of implementing the guidelines is on the Supreme Court now. You are the Central government. You can call DGPs. You are the best person to get this done. States are now saying they don’t have funds for CCTVs etc. These issues you have to resolve between you and the states. We don’t want to call these excuses…” The Court then ultimately granted one week’s time to states and UTs to file counter-affidavits.

Earlier, the Supreme Court directed the Jharkhand High Court Chief Justice to regularly monitor the investigation into the Dhanbad Judge Uttam Anand death case which will be conducted by the CBI.

The Bench comprising Chief Justice N.V. Ramana, Justice Vineet Saran, and Justice Surya Kant had held, “The CBI shall file the report of the investigation every week before the State High Court. And the High Court shall regularly monitor the investigation.”

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The Supreme Court had taken suo motu cognizance of the mounting concerns about the dangers faced by the subordinate judiciary, especially trial judges, in the line of duty. The Apex Court has noted that the death of Judge Uttam Anand, who was fatally knocked down by a vehicle while he was out for a morning jog in Dhanbad, had “wider ramifications”.

“The Dhanbad case has wider ramifications. We are getting reports that judicial officers are under attack across the country. We want to examine this issue and may seek reports from the States,” the CJI observed.

See order below:

Karunakar_Mahalik_vs_UOI

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