Courts Update Judges’ safety: Supreme Court grants states, UTs a week...

Judges’ safety: Supreme Court grants states, UTs a week to file counter-affidavits in suo motu PIL

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New Delhi Aug 17(ILNS): The Supreme Court today heard the suo motu PIL filed over the mounting concerns about the dangers faced by the subordinate judiciary, especially trial judges, in the line of duty.

Centre told the Supreme Court that it has already issued Guidelines for the safety of the judges and Security being the matter of State list, It is the State’s prerogative to implement those guidelines.

The Bench comprised of Chief Justice NV Ramana and Justice Surya Kant and Justice Aniruddha Bose stated in its order, “One week time given to file counter-affidavits. Bar Council of India is also permitted to file an affidavit within a week. Chief Secretaries to remain present in case affidavits are not submitted. Costs of one lakh to be imposed on states who fail to file a counter affidavit within a week.”

Appearing for the Central government, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta said that the Union Ministry of Home Affairs had already issued guidelines for the safety of judges back in 2007.

” The security of courts is better left to states, as it requires day to day coordination with the local police. From a coordination point of view, the deployment of local police is advisable. There can be state-specific issues. The state police are better equipped to deal with surveillance off criminals, intelligence regarding the threat, etc. it has to be state-specific instead of country specify”

CJI Ramana then said, “You can call states and take a decision on how the problem will be dealt with.”

Thereafter Justice Kant weighed in, saying, “Guidelines are fine…criminal habits are different, etc. The question is whether these guidelines are followed or not for the protection of judges, courts, etc. The burden of implementing the guidelines is on the Supreme Court now. You are the Central government. You can call DGPs. You are the best person to get this done. States are now saying they don’t have funds for CCTVs etc. These issues you have to resolve between you and the states. We don’t want to call these excuses…”
The Court then ultimately granted one week’s time to states and UTs to file counter-affidavits.

Earlier, The Supreme Court directed the Jharkhand High Court Chief Justice to regularly monitor the investigation into the Dhanbad Judge Uttam Anand death case which will be conducted by the CBI.

The Bench comprising Chief Justice N.V. Ramana, Justice Vineet Saran, and Justice Surya Kant held, “The CBI shall file the report of the investigation every week before the State High Court. And the High Court shall regularly monitor the investigation.”
On Saturday last, the apex court had issued notice to CBI in Judge Uttam Anand Death Case and the Safety of Judges Case.

The Supreme Court took suo-motu cognizance of the mounting concerns about the dangers faced by the subordinate judiciary, especially trial judges, in the line of duty.
The Apex Court has noted that the death of Judge Uttam Anand, who was fatally knocked down by a vehicle while he was out for a morning jog in Dhanbad, had “wider ramifications” on the independence of the judiciary.

The Supreme Court said it would be focusing on the larger aspects of the case, including the threats and appalling working conditions in which trial judges function. The Bench said its suo motu case would not interfere in any manner with the inquiry opened by the Jharkhand High Court on Thursday specifically into the judge’s death.

“The Dhanbad case has wider ramifications. We are getting reports that judicial officers are under attack across the country. We want to examine this issue and may seek reports from the States,” the CJI observed./ILNS/AV/SNG

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