Centre's decision to provide Z security to the richest Indian Mukesh Ambani today drew flak from the Supreme Court which asked why such persons are given security cover by the government when the common man is feeling unsafe.
The apex court ticked off the government for giving protection to such persons when the common man in the country is unsafe because of lack of security and said that a five-year-old girl would not have been raped if there was proper security in the capital.
The bench reasoned that the rich can afford to hire private security personnel.
"We read in newspapers that Ministry of Home has directed providing for CISF security to an individual. Why is state providing security to such person," a bench headed by Justice G S Singhvi said without taking the name of Ambani.
"If there is threat perception then he must engage private security personnel," the bench said adding, "Private businessmen getting security is prevalent in Punjab but that culture has gone to Mumbai."
The bench, however, said that "We are not concerned about the security of X,Y,Z persons but about the security of common man".
The bench was hearing a petition filed by a Uttar Pradesh resident on misuse security cover and red beacon provided by the government to people.
Government's decision to provide Z category security for Ambani had evoked sharp criticism from Left parties following which it was clarified that he will foot the expenses for this estimated to be Rs.15-16 lakh per month.
The business tycoon is the new entrant to the 'Z' category VIP security club after the Union Home ministry had recently approved an armed commando squad following threat perceptions.
The bench expressed anguish that security cover to VIPs are given at the cost of public exchequer and said that it would consider forming a new mechanism for assessing security threat to people on the basis of which protection is given to them.
"What is this nonsense. It is public exchequer. What about security of common man," it asked.
It said security provided to persons facing criminal proceedings must be withdrawn and government must take action against misuse of red beacon.
"Once you stop red beacon, half of their status would go.
Using beacon has become status symbol. It is like British Raj era," it said.
Earlier, the apex court had said it would decide whether a person other than high functionaries is entitled to use of beacons and sirens on their vehicles in view of their being misused and flaunted by people as status symbol.
It had strongly disapproved of police protection given to "all and sundry," including MPs and MLAs facing no security threat and directed the Centre and all states to furnish names of the people given the security and the expenditure borne by states on it.
"Security can be given to the head of state, the Prime Minister, Vice President, Speaker, Chief Justice of India, the heads of constitutional authority and similar counterparts in the states. But why all and sundry is given red beacon and security? Even mukhiya, sarpanch move with red beacon," the bench had said.