The Bombay High Court on Tuesday directed the Maharashtra government to reply within two weeks to the plea filed by Shiv Sena (UBT) MP Rajan Vichare seeking restoration of his security cover which was withdrawn last October.
A division bench of Justices Ajey Gadkari and PD Naik has also asked the government to produce a report of threat perception based on which decision was taken to reduce his security.
The court has also asked Vichare to delete the names of Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde and Deputy Chief Minister and Home Minister Devendra Fadnavis, who were added as respondents in their individual capacities in the petition. “You have impleaded them (Shinde and Fadnavis) in their personal capacity. How is Article 226 maintainable while making ministers respondents in individual capacity?” asked the court. Vichare's plea has been filed under Article 226 of the Constitution, which gives the high courts the power to issue orders/ writs against the government.
The PIL had pointed out news reports to show that vehicles acquired from the Nirbhaya fund were diverted for the protection of MLAs from the Shinde camp. The plea had sought an investigation into the misuse of Nirbhaya squad vehicles.
Public prosecutor Aruna Kamath-Pai pointed out to the court that this prayer did not pertain to him but was generic in nature.
The court then asked Vichare’s advocate Nitin Satpute to choose which prayer he wanted to pursue. To this, he said that they wanted to pursue the restoration of the MP’s security. The court then asked Satpute to delete the Nirbhaya squad prayer, to which he agreed.
During the hearing, Satpute submitted that the security cover was removed on October 17, 2022, without a valid reason. It was removed after the Shiv Sena party split, he said.
The court questioned whether there was any communication from the government while removing the security, to which Satpute replied in negative. “They withdrew without informing. Out of 2 policemen, 1 was withdrawn and one time a home guard was appointed,” he contended.
However, Pai claimed that the security was not removed but only reduced. “Earlier, there were two policemen during the day and two during the night. It has been reduced, not removed, as he is claiming,” she said.
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