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Days before shoot-out, court security was reviewed

Most district courts raised issue of lawyers not cooperating in checking, frisking

Over two weeks ago, a security review of each of the seven district courts in Delhi was conducted under the chairmanship of a judge from each court, it has been learnt. One of the corrective suggestions made during the review was frisking and checking of lawyers on the court premises.

The shoot-out inside courtroom number 207 of the Rohini court complex, wherein dreaded gangster Jitender Mann alias Gogi was shot dead in front of a judge on Friday, has raised questions over the security arrangements in courts, especially district courts where incidents of criminals walking in with weapons have often been reported.

The security apparatus of courts is such that all seven district courts are to be protected by the district police, whereas the High Court and the Supreme Court are under the protection of Delhi Police’s separate security unit. The periphery of the HC and the SC, however, is protected by New Delhi district officers. Each district court has a security committee, which is headed by an Additional Sessions Judge (ASJ) who liaises with the police team deployed on the premises.

It has been learnt that the Rohini court complex has the least number of CCTV cameras as compared to other district courts. Rohini has 90 CCTV cameras installed out of which one isn’t functional; Saket and Karkardooma have 774 and 713 CCTV cameras respectively, Patiala House Court has 135, Tis Hazari as over 240, Dwarka has over 180 and Rouse Avenue has over 150. There are no CCTV cameras inside courtrooms, it has been learnt.

SC took cognisance

After the murder of a judge in Dhanbad in broad daylight in July this year, the Supreme Court took suo motu cognisance of the security of judges and court premises. In view of the proceedings of the apex court, security reviews were conducted for all the courts in Delhi. Police sources said that senior officers of the district, a designated member of the High Court, officials of the Public Works Department, district judges, members of the security committees of courts were present in the meetings. The meetings were chaired by ASJs in their own districts.

It has been learnt that during the meeting on security arrangements in Rohini court, the point about checking and frisking of advocates was made. “We raised our concern over how advocates should agree to checking of their ID cards and frisking to ensure no riff-raff enters the premises,” an official privy to the meeting said.

In Dwarka court’s security review meeting, four major point were raised. The first point: advocates should be checked at entry and exit gates. Second, lawyers’ chambers should be shut after 6 p.m. Third, advocates should be given passes — stickers for their vehicles — and no one else should be allowed in their cars apart from the lawyers. Fourth, cooperation of lawyers for checking must be ensured. “Lawyers’ chambers are open till late night and clients keep coming. In all the district courts, lawyers don’t allow checking of their chambers. Weapons and alcohol can be easily brought in,” an official said.

In Karkardooma court’s meeting, similar concerns were raised. Rouse Avenue, officials said, runs smooth as compared to other courts because it’s a specialised court with much less numbers of courtrooms. “Not many lawyers object to checking at Rouse Avenue. Problem only arises when there’s a crowd,” an official said.

A senior police officer said that compliance towards getting checked and frisked is a lot more in HC and SC as compared to the lower courts. “In HC, the lawyers don’t mind showing their IDs when asked. They are frisked. In SC, lawyers can only enter with their ID cards, which they press against the Radio Frequency Identification System. In lower courts, however, lawyers come with their clients and insist that nobody is checked,” an officer said.

A senior officer said the solution to ensure adequate security at lower courts is to install Radio Frequency Identification machines and designated gates for lawyers. “Facial Recognition System needs to be installed to check for criminals entering the premises. Under vehicle sca-nning systems should be installed. And most importantly, security of courts should be given to CISF,” he said.

Senior advocate Vikas Singh said the police are lying about lawyers not being ready to get their IDs checked and it is their “callous attitude” that is to be blamed. “This shoot-out is the result of huge intelligence failure. Police deployment had been increased since morning. A high-risk prisoner was coming. The police should have known what his rivals were planning,” he said.

On Saturday, security was stepped up at all the district courts. At Tis Hazari, there were metal detectors and baggage scanners installed at five of the nine entry gates and paramilitary forces were also deployed. Similar measures were taken at other courts as well.

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