Insulating Supreme Court from terror threat a complex task

December 14th, 2008 - 11:48 am ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Dec 14 (IANS) Despite remaining a high-value target since the attack on the Indian parliament eight years ago, the Supreme Court of India is yet to get an impregnable security cordon around its majestic complex.Thanks to its constitutional obligation to be freely accessible to common citizens looking for justice, coupled with the reluctance of the men and women in black robes to be frisked and the tactlessness and insensitivity of the men in khaki, insulating the apex court from the terror threat is proving to be a complex task.

Ironically, the lawyers themselves realize that their attitude poses a potential security hazard for the Supreme Court.

The day after 10 Pakistani terrorists sneaked into Mumbai from the sea on Nov 26 and unleashed a devastating carnage that claimed 179 lives, senior advocate K.K. Venugopal wrote to the Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) underlining the security risk posed to the apex court by the advocates’ attitude.

“After the Mumbai terrorist incident, I do not think we should be complacent. The Supreme Court building is wholly insecure for the main reasons that the lawyers are not ready to show their identity cards and subject themselves to frisking despite the warning beeps of metal detectors at the entrances,” Venugopal said in his letter.

“It is obvious that any person who is prepared to spend Rs.500 on a black gown, black coat and the lawyers’ band is in a position to walk into the Supreme Court with explosives hidden in his robes. This means that we lawyers are exposing ourselves along with judges and the visitors to a terrorist attack in the Supreme Court,” the senior advocate added.

SCBA president Pravin H. Parekh fully concurs with Venugopal’s concern, while the police too couldn’t agree more.

“The lawyers’ attitude poses a risk to the court’s security. Our boys find it difficult to handle them,” Deputy Commissioner of Police (Supreme Court Security) S.R. Meena told IANS.

The lawyers, however, blame the “sheer unprofessional ways of the security personnel in doing their job” for their general disdain for the men in khaki inside the apex court premises.

“They never dare demand an identity card from a senior lawyer or frisk them, more so if those lawyers are in the media limelight,” said advocate Suresh Chand.

“But while frisking the little-known lawyers, they appear to be unnecessarily intrusive, deliberately groping the body and violating one’s dignity and privacy. They appear to take vicarious pleasure in doing all that,” Chand added.

Asked about the “uncouth behaviour” of the security personnel, Meena refused to respond.

Terrorists on Dec 13, 2001, attacked the Indian parliament resulting in a 45-minute gun battle in which nine policemen and parliament staffers were killed. All the five terrorists were also killed by the security forces and were identified as Pakistani nationals.

The slew of new security measures that have been put in place mean that even MPs and ministers, no matter how influential, cannot take them for granted.

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