The Delhi High Court will hear a writ petition seeking a security upgrade in court complexes of Delhi, as well as a suo motu case initiated by the Court in the matter following the Rohini Court shootout, next on October 25, after the upcoming Dusshera holidays. (Deepa Joseph v. Commissioner of Police, Bar Council of Delhi)
A Bench of Chief Justice DN Patel and Justice Jyoti Singh on Tuesday heard both matters together, and formally issued notice in the writ petition by a Delhi-based lawyer, Deepa Joseph, filed days after the Rohini Court shootout incident, in which three people were killed and questions of lax security were raised.
The High Court has also indicated that the matter may be dealt with ultimately through the issuance of various directions by the Court for the safety and security of all stakeholders in the court complexes of Delhi.
The matter was adjourned after advocate KC Mittal sought more time, on behalf of the Saket Bar Association, to respond with suggestions on how to improve security in Delhi courts. As a result of lok adalats being conducted over the recent days, the Association was not able to furnish its suggestions, the Court was told.
Meanwhile, the Court today was apprised of various suggestions given by other stakeholders, including the Delhi High Court Bar Association (DHCBA) Bar Council of the Delhi and the Delhi Police.
Senior Advocate Mohit Mathur, President of the DHCBA, read out several suggestions, including on entry-level security, checking of vehicles with high tech devices, production of undertrials through video conference and restrictions on the entry of hawkers, and salesmen into court premises.
"Hawkers and salesman are coming (to court premises)?", Chief Justice Patel was prompted to query today, upon Mathur making his suggestion on the issue.
"It is a common issue, where we sometimes have to shunt them out. They come in based on ID card, but they are actually carrying their wares, books .. with mobile technology, even small things like mobile accessories, they bring to court. In High Court, it is streamlined. But in district courts, it is common. That's a security hazard," Mathur informed.
Mathur also suggested that the number of security personnel should be increased, that shopkeepers and their employees in court complexes should be licensed, among other suggestions.
Advocate Devendra Singh appeared for the Bar Council of Delhi to put forward the following, among other, suggestions:
ID Cards issued by the Bar Council should be valid for the purpose of entry into Court premises. Cards with chips may be issued later;
All advocates should cooperative with security checks and action should be taken by concerned Bar association or Council against lawyers who do not abide by security checks;
Interns may have their own dress code;
Every fifteen days, the security staff should interact with the concerned Bar association body or Bar Council. Meetings should be held by Bar Council and Bar Association to discuss security measures;
Video conference may be used for avoiding security lapses;
There should be a three-tier security, comprising of one for outer tier (outside the court complex), middle tier (at the entrance of courts) as well as a security level inside courts which may comprise of persons in civil dress;
More CCTV cameras inside and outside the court as well as a 24-hour control room to monitor CCTV footage.
ASG Chetan Sharma informed that the Delhi police has also given suggestions, including several mentioned by Senior Advocate Mathur apart from some additional recommendations. He also flagged concern over security lapses that may ensure with crowding in courts.
"It can get worse with overcrowding, there are some elements which take benefit of overcrowding and courts are soft targets", Sharma said.
He added that courts should maximise the use of technology to avoid such possible security lapses.
Appearing for the petitioner, Deepa Joseph, Advocate Robin Raju also informed that several suggestions have been placed on the issue. Apart from expressing his appreciation over the issue being taken up seriously, he also urged that the Bar Council of Delhi should issue an advisory to all Bar Associations stating that the advocates must cooperate with police officials during security checks.
The Court will hear the matter next on October 25. The stakeholders who are yet to submit their suggestions were asked to file their affidavits by then. The Bench has also asked all parties to exchange their suggestions with each other.