The Supreme Court dismissing the plea seeking withdrawal of security cover to Reliance industries, Mukesh Ambani and his family members on Thursday observed that “it is for the State to assess and review the threat perception of individual on case to case basis”.
Justice Ashok Bhusan and Justice R.Subhash Reddy and Justice M R Shah were hearing SLP against the December 2019 decision on the Bombay High Court , where it was held that “the Commissioner of Police, Mumbai and other respondents “have no option but to ensure that the highest level Z+ security is provided to these private respondents”, irrespective of whether any individual or any authority is convinced about the existence or otherwise of real threat to their life or liberty, particularly when they are willing to bear the entire cost for said security to protect their lives in view of their own grave threat perceptions”.
The three-judge bench of the Supreme Court in the context of these observations of the High Court proceeded to clarify, “We, however, observe that it is for the State to assess and review the threat perception of individual on case to case basis”. The SLP was dismissed.
The bench of Justice Surendra P. Tavade and Justice Ranjit More noted that, “Significantly, another PIL challenging the security cover to one of the Respondents herein has earlier been dismissed by the judgment in Nitin’s case The co ordinate bench in Nitin’s case also observed that in genuine and deserving cases, the State is bound to provide security cover not only to Ministers, ex-Ministers, bureaucrats, but also to private citizens who have fundamental right to life which includes right of protection of his life”.
The High Court had said that the threat perception of the private individual cannot be ignored or deny the protection of life. Observing the revenue of Reliance Industries Limited Corporation has substantial impact on India’s GDP. “Once threat from terrorist organisation has been found by the Respondent State and already as noted above in the said earlier judgment of the co- co-ordinate bench considering existence of such treat perception and likely cascading effect thereof, private respondent’s family members to have security protection of the highest category to protect their life and limb cannot be alleged as lacking in substance” the court added.
In a challenge filed by the West Bengal Government to the directions issued by the High Court to provide armed security at the cost of state in the Biswanath’s case (2015) the bench noted that the law regarding necessity to provide or grant of security cover to the citizens is well covered by Apex Court.
Dismissing the PIL with costs, The High Court ruled that “The private respondents herein are not desirous of any security at the State expenditure for protection of their lives. They are themselves bearing the cost for security provided by the Respondent-State. The private respondents herein are willing to further bear the cost of availing the highest level of security. We find no error in private respondent’s family seeking and availing the Z+ security in the above facts and circumstances. The judgment of Hon’ble Supreme Court in Biswanath (supra) is binding throughout the territories of India”.
Ambani’s were represented by Senior Advocate Mukul Rohatgi.
The petitioner Himanshu Aggarwal was represented by Advocate Karan Bharihoke.