The Supreme Court on Monday stayed the Jammu and Kashmir High Court order directing the state government to provide life-time security cover to retired judges and advocate generals. A bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud also stayed the proceedings going on before the High Court. The bench agreed with the contention of senior advocate Rajeev Dhavan, representing the state government, that the High Court’s March 14 last year order was erroneous.
The state government, in its petition, had contended that a “grave error” was committed by the high court in providing a minimum of 1-4 security personnel cover to all former chief justices and former judges of the HC for life. In its plea, the state government, through senior lawyer Dhavan and advocate Shoeb Alam, has contended that throughout the country, security cover provided to VIPs/protected persons was done on the basis of threat assessment and guidelines laid down by the Ministry of Home Affairs.
It had said that the Centre had laid down an elaborate mechanism for providing security cover to protected persons. “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 state government had said.
The plea had said the directions amount to “usurpation 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”, it had said.
The High Court had on March 14, 2016 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. It had said that enhancement of the security cover shall be as per the threat perception and that retired district and session judges should also 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.