It is most heartening and most rejuvenating to see that the Delhi High Court has taken a very serious note of the gun firing incident that took place at the Rohini District Court on September 24, 2021. It was definitely most shocking and one felt most aghast if not terrified to see that the gang wars of different gangs have now reached right up to the court premises itself where Judges sit to dispense justice and which are supposed to be the holiest shrines for getting justice. This definitely cannot be taken just lying down and what is most shocking to witness is that such horrifying incidents are happening now on regular basis not just in states like Bihar or UP but now also right in our national capital that is Delhi itself and we see how the Rohini court premises also in Delhi have once again grabbed the limelight for all the wrong reasons! Earlier also we know how the Rohini court premises have seen several such incidents happening as was disclosed in several news channels which is certainly a matter of utmost shame for all of us!
Should it not then be asked most relevantly and pertinently: Why is the security apparatus always allowed to be compromised in the court premises time and again? Why no steps are taken to improve drastically the security apparatus of the court premises especially of the District Courts where we repeatedly keep on witnessing such incidents in different parts of the country? What larger message is it sending among such criminals? Is it not sending the larger message that criminals can have a free run to do what they like even in the court premises also?
Needless to say, it has also to be asked certainly without fail: Why should the security apparatus of court premises not be beefed up? Why should all such men in uniform not be taken to task who allow this worst compromise with security? Why no lesson is learnt repeatedly from past several such incidents which keeps happening time and again right inside court premises as have seen now also? Why is the security of District Court premises taken so lightly time and again by the police administration and those in charge of court security?
Most significantly and also most remarkably, we must note here that the Bench of Delhi High Court comprising of Chief Justice DN Patel and Justice Jyoti Singh read out in open court the following suggestions to improve the security apparatus of the court premises: –
- Commissioner of Delhi Police should constitute a Team to (periodically) undertake security audit of all Courts in the national capital;
- Peculiarity of each court complex shall be considered by this Team for deciding the number of police personnel to be deployed, number of cameras to be installed etc.
- These police personnel shall be responsible for checking/frisking;
- Mechanism of frisking should be quick and efficient;
- Frisking personnel should be deployed at main gate as well as outside every court room;
- No baggage to be permitted inside court premises without proper scanning;
- Round the clock monitoring of court building through CCTV cameras;
- High security cases to be heard via video conferencing;
- Under Trial Prisoners appearance may be procured through virtual mode as far as possible;
- Wherever they are required to be produced physically, proceedings may be conducted at vulnerable witness room/inside jail;
- Installation of automated gates like metro stations may be considered to handle huge number of visitors;
- Issue entry stickers for vehicles;
- Delhi Bar Council may issue digitized ID cards (with QR codes) for Advocates entry to court;
- Delhi Police shall be responsible for regular and continuous security audits at all courts;
- State government shall be accountable for making budgetary allocation to purchase security tools and equipment.
For the sake of clarity, the Bench then made it clear that these are only suggestions, subject to approval by stakeholders. Of course, the Bench said quite unambiguously that, “This is not an order. No directions.”
It may be recalled that the Chief Justice DN Patel had earlier minced no words to observe unequivocally that, “This is a grave matter and requires immediate attention.” This was stated so while asking the stakeholders to come up with suggestions, so as to address the issue of security lapse in courts, especially the District Courts. Accordingly, the Delhi Police, the Bar Council of Delhi and the Delhi High Court Bar Association had filed their replies in the matter.
Quite significantly, the key suggestion of the Delhi Police was that the entry of the visitors to the court should be restricted in general. The Delhi Police pointed out that, “Security issue can get worse with overcrowding. Courts are soft targets.” Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Chetan Sharma appearing for the Delhi Police submitted that the agency had taken certain crucial and substantive steps to improve security measures. ASG Chetan said that the following steps have been taken: –
- Standing orders issued by Delhi Police for managing security;
- 85 door metals installed at various courts;
- 125 hand-held detectors supplied in all seven courts;
- Physical checking points in every court covered and secured;
- Tender issued for procuring adequate Scanner X-ray machines;
- Existing inoperable scanners repaired;
- Sufficient manpower with paramilitary support deployed;
- Inspector in charge, DCPs etc placed for all courts exclusively;
- 2300 CTVs, 300 Police personnel in service.
Apart from what has been suggested, it must be underscored that even advocates must be also subjected to rigorous checking and should be allowed entry only after being checked thoroughly as we see in High Courts. Under no circumstances should an advocate ever be allowed to ever enter court premises with weapons. If this is strictly ensured without any bias and on one and all then it can be made certain that no person under the garb of being an advocate is ever allowed to carry weapon inside the court premises.
Let us also not forget that those dreaded criminals who fired indiscriminately in Rohini court were also dressed in advocates uniform! Why do advocates need weapons inside court premises? This must be strictly and sternly banned and those found indulging in it must be strictly punished so that no one ever dares to bring weapon inside court premises under the garb of being an advocate! No denying it!
One fervently hopes that the Delhi High Court apart from its own suggestions and that of the Delhi High Court Bar Association, the Bar Association of and the Delhi Police would also take suggestions from other stakeholders also as also from the informed citizens so that the security of court premises is never compromised under any circumstances! It definitely goes without saying that the State government should also generously allot funds to ensure that the security apparatus of courts especially the district courts is upgraded to the best possible extent so that its breach becomes next to impossible! This is the crying need of the hour also!