Delhi Court Shootout: Must Strictly Regulate Court Entry, Says High Court

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The Delhi High Court Monday said it expected full cooperation from the Delhi government, police and lawyers on safety and security in courts and suggested strictly regulating entry to judicial complexes by deploying an appropriate number of personnel and devices based on a security audit.

A bench headed by Chief Justice DN Patel, hearing the suo motu case concerning the September 24 shootout that killed three persons in a courtroom in Rohini Court, proposed that the city government be accountable for allocation of budget for the purchase of security devices and as the police has the expertise, it should buy them under intimation to the government and the court.

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The bench, which also comprised Justices Jyoti Singh, clarified that it will issue appropriate “directions” to the authorities after the stakeholders have perused the suggestions “summarised” by it.

The court said that based on the suggestions received from Delhi Police and various lawyers’ bodies, it made its own “short summary” which may be put into practice.

The Police Commissioner will put together a team of experts for a security audit of courts and deploy an appropriate number of personnel, the court said.

It added that entry for all, including advocates, would be subject to frisking — which is quick and efficient — and passing through metal detectors, with no baggage allowed inside courts without scanning.

The court also suggested placing all court complexes under round-the-clock CCTV monitoring, issuing “stickers” to vehicles that may be permitted entry inside a court complex and installing under vehicle scanning system as well as automated gates to tackle crowd.

The court further said that the Bar Council of Delhi should devise a mechanism to issue lawyers non-transferable identity cards equipped with a QR code or a chip.

It also said that wherever possible, high-risk people in custody who are awaiting trial should be produced virtually or else in vulnerable witness rooms or in jails themselves.

The Registrar General of this court shall make a report on these aspects and the concerned district judges shall decide the number of entry and exit points in their respect court complexes, the court added.

“This court expects full cooperation of the government, police and the Bar. Mainly, these are the things. Once an order is passed, an amendment (to the directions) will come after 2-3 months,” the court said.

During the hearing, Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Chetan Sharma said the police has already conducted a safety audit and the Security Unit of Delhi Police has taken over the responsibility of courts.

ASG Sharma highlighted that during Diwali, certain lawyers in Rohini court raised objections to being subjected to security checks.

“You (Bar bodies) should pass a resolution on this point that there may not be any negative reaction. Lawyers should have faith in leaders otherwise no work will be done,” the chief justice responded.

The police had told the court earlier that it has installed more metal detectors in all the seven district courts in the area — Tis Hazari, Rohini, Karkardooma, Saket, Patiala, Dwarka and Rouse Avenue.

Earlier, Delhi Police had suggested that the use of technology should be maximised to reduce physical presence of parties in all the seven district courts and updated security gadgets be installed there to obviate security concerns.

The High Court had on September 30 initiated on its own a petition concerning security at courts in the national capital following the September 24 shootout at the Rohini Court, saying there was a need for proper and effective deployment of a sufficient number of police personnel in courts.

Jailed gangster Jitendra Gogi and his two assailants, posing as lawyers, were killed inside the Rohini courtroom on September 24 in a dramatic shootout that also saw the police fire bullets in retaliation, officials had said.

Video footage of the incident showed policemen and lawyers rushing out in panic as gunshots rang out inside courtroom number 207.

The two gunmen dressed as lawyers are suspected to be members of rival Tillu gang, an official had said, adding that over 30 shots were fired.

On September 24, Chief Justice of India NV Ramana had expressed deep concern over the shootout inside the crowded Rohini courtroom and spoke to the Delhi High Court Chief Justice in this regard and advised him to talk to both police and the Bar to ensure that the functioning of the court is not affected.

The matter will be heard next on November 24.

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