Amid a national debate on why VIPs enjoy lavish security leaving the public largely unattended, the Supreme Court today ordered all state governments to furnish in two days details of how many police personnel in their states are assigned to politicians. The judges warned that they will summon senior bureaucrats from each state to court if their directive is ignored.
In India, there are only 137 policemen for every lakh of the population. Official records also say that 22 per cent of police posts are vacant. The centre has told the court that approximately Rs 341 crore was spent on guarding VVIPs in Delhi last year. Most of this money was spent on 376 individuals who had been given Z-plus or central security forces. Rs 40 crore was spent on the security in Rashtrapati Bhawan alone.
Gujarat said it spent Rs 30 crore guarding 283 persons who were given special security while Bihar told the court that it was difficult to calculate the cost of and insisted that only the Governor, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, former chief ministers Lalu Prasad Yadav and Rabri Devi have been given Z-plus security.
The paucity of security for women, especially in Delhi, was highlighted with brute force in December when a medical student was fatally gang-raped by six men on a moving bus in the capital. The assault provoked large protests in the capital and other cities. In response, the government introduced new anti-rape laws last week which include the death penalty for extreme cases of sexual assault.
The judges today pointed out that the protection for women needs to be drastically increased, and referred to yesterday's declaration by chief minister Sheila Dikshit that despite recent discussions about security reforms, "Women still feel unsafe in Delhi."
The judges said, "We can understand security being provided to the President, Vice- President, Prime Minister, Speaker and their counter parts in the states. But what is the requirement of providing security to judges? Why is security is given to those who are not in power and against whom cases are pending?"
The case will next be heard on February 14.