New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday agreed to set up a panel, headed by a former apex court judge, to probe Prime Minister Narendra Modi security breach in Punjab last week.
After a detailed hearing in the matter, a bench headed by Chief Justice N.V. Ramana and comprising Justices Surya Kant and Hima Kohli said the court will set up a committee headed by a retired top court judge to probe the PM’s security breach and asked both the Centre and Punjab government to not move ahead with their respective inquires into the matter.
The bench said it will pass a detailed order in the matter. During the hearing, the bench orally proposed that other members of the committee would be Director General of Police (DGP) Chandigarh, Inspector General (IG) National Investigation Agency (NIA), registrar general (Punjab and Haryana High Court), and Additional DGP (security) Punjab.
The bench said: “We are taking the PM’s security breach very seriously”. The bench added that it will ask the committee to submit its report to it within a short span.
Advocate General D.S. Patwalia, representing the Punjab government, complained against show-cause notices to its chief secretary and DGP. He urged the top court to form an independent committee to probe the matter. “Hang me if I am guilty… but don’t condemn me unheard,” submitted Patwalia.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, representing the Centre, defended the show-cause notices issued by the Central government. However, the top court expressed its displeasure at the Centre’s stand, questioning what is the point of asking the court to examine the matter if the Centre wanted to go ahead on its own.
Senior advocate Maninder Singh, representing the Delhi-based petitioner Lawyer’s Voice, emphasised the importance of protection to the PM of the country and cited previous top court ruling that looked at the SPG Act.
The plea sought an independent probe into the PM’s security breach in Punjab. It sought a direction from the District Judge Bathinda to collect, preserve and present all material pertaining to the movement and deployment of Punjab Police in connection with the visit of the Prime Minister, and fix responsibility of the DGP and the Chief Secretary, Punjab.
On January 6, the Ministry of Home Affairs constituted a three-member committee to enquire into the “serious lapses in the security arrangements” during the PM’s visit to Ferozepur, in poll-bound Punjab. The MHA said: “The committee will be led by Sudhir Kumar Saxena, Secretary (Security), Cabinet Secretariat, and comprising Balbir Singh, Joint Director, IB, and S. Suresh, IG, SPG.”