In fresh guidelines issued by the state home department to the police, it has been stated that individuals earning less than Rs 50,000 a month will not be asked to pay to avail of police protection. But taxpayers’ money will no longer be utilised for protection of financially well-off individuals under threat.
Those earning less than Rs 50,000 a month have been exempted from paying protection fees, which the new guidelines state must not exceed 15 per cent of a person’s gross income. The guidelines state: “If one can financially afford to pay for such police protection there is no reason why tax payers’ money should be used for grant of such protection by causing a drain on the public exchequer.”
However, MPs, MLAs, MLCs and government and semi-government officials will continue to be exempted from paying protection fees.
In September last year, the Bombay High Court had directed the state government to revisit its policy and streamline the process of granting security to individuals to ensure that only those who deserve protection are provided with it. The home department issued a Government Resolution (GR) detailing a fresh set of guidelines to be followed while granting protection to private individuals.
There are four categories of protection granted to individuals in the state — Z+ given to the Governor, Chief Minister and other dignitaries and Z, X and Y categories granted to other ministers and VIPs.
The GR notes that police protection is neither a commodity nor a service that can be purchased in lieu of payment. “The seriousness of such threat decides, not only as to whether or not police protection ought to be granted,” the resolution states.
The social status of individuals who are to be granted security would also not be considered, the resolution states. “The only relevant factor, in this regard, would be the actual and factual threat to the life of the concerned person and the extent,” adds the GR.
In Maharashtra, committees headed by the police commissioner and the superintendent of police take final decisions regarding granting security to an individual on the basis of the seriousness of the threat to his or her life. According to the new guidelines, the police will now be required to verify not only the nature of the threat but also its source.
The committees are now required to review their decisions and threats faced by individuals granted security every three months. Additionally, the decisions would be reviewed every six months by the another committee, headed by the director general of police.
The GR states in detail, situation under which security can be withdrawn by the police.
“If a person to whom such a police protection is provided, refuses to allow the police so provided for his/her protection to accompany him/her to a particular place on a particular occasion, the concerned police personnel must submit a report to that effect in writing immediately to the concerned Superintendent of Police or the Commissioner of Police as the case may be,” the resolution reads. Protection may be withdrawn by the commissioner or superintendent after an inquiry into such an incident, the GR states.
Addressing concerns raised by a Public Interest Litigation filed in the High Court claiming that more than 1,000 police personnel in the state are deployed to protect individuals, the GR adds that they would henceforth be drawn only from a particular police headquarters and not from police stations.
“This will also ensure a centralized mechanism of providing such police protection to various individuals within a particular police headquarter,” states the GR.
The police have been directed to consider requests for protection made by individuals with criminal antecedents in “special and exceptional circumstances” or at a particular place or event where there is a real threat to their lives. The instruction comes with the admission that such individuals “are likely to misuse the police protection and/or utilize it to commit further offences”.