Supreme Court stays J&K HC order over lifetime security cover to ex-judges

Jammu: The Supreme Court on Monday stayed the Jammu and Kashmir High Court order directing the state to provide adequate security cover to its ex-chief justices and former judges.

On Friday, a bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices AM Khanwilkar and DY Chandrachud agreed to examine the plea of the state government which said that the Jammu and Kashmir High Court has committed a grave error in directing that a minimum of 1-4 security personnel cover should be provided to all former chief justices and former judges of the High Court for life.

Senior advocate Rajeev Dhavan along with advocate Shoeb Alam, appearing for state government, said throughout the country, security cover provided to VIPs/protected persons is done on the basis of threat assessment and as per the guidelines laid down by the Ministry of Home Affairs.

They said that the Centre has laid down an elaborate mechanism for providing security cover to protected persons. The bench said it will look into the matter.
 The petition filed by the state government said ‘as such, the field is occupied by a detailed policy which contains the procedure for periodic assessments of threats, providing security on the basis of such assessment. It therefore is not a subject that is unguided by any executive expert policy’.

The plea said the directions amount to ‘usurption of an expert function’ by encroaching upon an area which is exclusive expertise of the state and security agencies.

“It is settled law that a court of law shall not interfere with the performance of an expert function or the opinion of experts since it is ill-equipped with executing the same. The functions of an expert body are best left to be performed by the expert body which alone is competent to deal with such matters”, the plea said.

The High Court, in its March 14 last year’s order, had directed the state to provide round-the-clock security cover at the residences of each former chief justice and judge of High Court along with one personal security officer (PSO). It had said that enhancement of the security cover shall be as per the threat perception.

The High Court had said that even retired district and session judges be provided extended security cover for one year on their retirement.

It had also directed the state to provide 1-3 security guards personnel round the clock at the residence each former advocate general of the state and one PSO shall be provided on demand.

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