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India

PM Modi Security Lapse Probe To Be Headed By Retd Justice Indu Malhotra

Setting up the independent committee, a Bench of Chief Justice of India NV Ramana, Justices Surya Kant and Hima Kohli said such an issue cannot be decided by 'one sided inquiry' of Centre or the state government and it has to be by a 'judicially trained mind'.

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New Delhi: The Supreme Court of India on Wednesday said that a committee headed by a retired top court judge, Justice Indu Malhotra has been set up to probe into the security lapse during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Punjab on January 5.

Setting up the independent committee, a Bench of Chief Justice of India NV Ramana, Justices Surya Kant and Hima Kohli said such an issue cannot be decided by “one sided inquiry” of Centre or the state government and it has to be by a “judicially trained mind”.

The other members of the committee include Director General of National Investigation Agency (NIA) or his nominee not below the rank of IG, DGP Union Territory of Chandigarh, ADGP of Punjab (Security) and Registrar General of Punjab and Haryana High Court.

The committee will inquire into causes of the security breach, persons responsible for the breach and the future measures to be taken for preventing such security breaches of VVIPs, the Bench said, and asked the committee to submit a report at the earliest.

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It also asked Registrar General of High Court to submit all records and documents collected by him on orders of the apex court to inquiry panel.

The five member committee will inquire into the issue of breach of PM Mondi’s security and Court stayed all existing inquiries into the matter.

The following are the Terms of Reference for the Enquiry Committee:

i. What were the causes for the security breach for the incident on January 5

ii. Who are responsible for such a breach, and to what extent?

iii. What should be the remedial measures or safeguards neccessary for the security of the Prime Minister or other Protectees?

iv. Any suggestions or recommendations for improving the safety and security of other Constitutional functionaries.

v. Any other incidental issue that the Committee may deem fit and proper.

“We are of considered opinion that this can’t be left to one sided inquiries. A judicially trained independent mind assisted by officers, well acquainted with security considerations, and High Court Register Gener, who seized records on our orders, would inquire into the incident,” the Bench said.

The top court’s order came on a PIL seeking judicial probe into breach of Prime Minister’s security while on a visit to Punjab.

The apex court, earlier on Monday, while hearing a plea over the Prime Minister’s security lapse issue had decided to constitute an independent committee headed by a retired top court judge to investigate the matter.

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The plea in the top court was filed by ‘Lawyers’ Voice’ alleging that PM’s security breach was a deliberate lapse on part of the State and sought the preservation of evidence on security arrangements and action against “erring” officials of the Punjab government.

It also sought direction to the district judge, Bhatinda to collect “all official documents and materials from all possible sources” pertaining to the movements and deployment of Punjab Police in connection with the visit at the earliest and produce the same before this court.

“Issue a writ of mandamus or any other writ, order or direction fixing responsibility of Respondent No. 2 (chief secretary) and Respondent No.3 (DGP) and place them under suspension and further direct the Respondent No. 4 (Centre) to initiate departmental action against the same,” it added.

On January 5, the Prime Minister’s convoy was held up at a flyover for 15-20 minutes while on his way to Ferozepur in Punjab due to a road blocked by some protesters. The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) called it as a “major lapse” in his security and asked the Punjab government to “fix responsibility”.

(With ANI inputs)