State has no duty to give security to private individual: SC

New Delhi, May 1 (IANS) The Supreme Court Wednesday adversely commented on the home ministry providing security to a Mumbai businessman, indirectly referring to the recent decision of provide Z+ security to Reliance India Limited chairman and CEO Mukesh Ambani by the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF).

Referring to a newspaper report that the ministry of home affairs had decided to provide CISF security to an individual, the apex court bench of Justice G.S. Singhvi and Justice Kurien Joseph said that the state was not obliged to provide security to private individuals.

“Earlier, it was prevalent in Punjab that businessman got security; now it has come to Bombay,” Justice Singhvi noted.

Observing that the government was not obliged to provide security to private individuals, the court said that businessmen can have their own security, and not state security, at the cost of the common man.

Senior counsel Harish Salve, who is amicus curiae in the case which has come to be known as the VIP security case, told the court that he had inquired about the reasons for the move, and was told that they had only asked for arms licences, as they had their own security people, but the government said it would provide CISF security.

They requested, “permit us arms licences. We have our own security. They (government) said we will not allow you arms licence. We will give you CISF security,” Salve said referring to his conversation.

Having said this, Salve said there were many big names in the industry like Ratan Tata, Narayana Murthy and others who may need such security. He asked why the CISF could not create an exclusive unit to guard such people, on the basis of a payment.

Additional Solicitor General Siddarth Luthra said that private agencies could not be given licences for arms, as such a move would have the potential to create a private army. He said that another bench of the apex court was seized of the matter.

Additional Solicitor General Indira Jaisingh told the court that that under the law there was provision for the individual to get licence for arms. She said they could apply for arms under the provisions of the statute.

The court said it would take up, in the next hearing July 9, the matter of the number of people charged with criminal offences, and of private individuals receiving security cover.

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