(MENAFN- IANS) By Shekhar Singh
Security measures at court complexes across the national capital are under scrutiny once again after a woman was shot and seriously injured in the Saket Court premises by a man who had entered the complex wearing a lawyer's garb and carrying a gun.
This incident comes two years since the killing of gangster Jitender Singh Mann alias Gogi in a Rohini courtroom in September 2021, which had prompted assurances of heightened security measures.
However, the fact that the latest attack which took place on April 21 was able to occur despite these assurances highlights the inadequacy of the current security arrangements.
It is not the first time that court security has been called into question in the city, as in the same year Gogi was shot dead, a DRDO scientist was able to detonate an explosive device inside the courtroom in the same Rohini Court, underscoring the urgent need for more robust security protocols.
In the wake of the Rohini shootout, the Delhi Police's security unit and the central paramilitary force were entrusted with the responsibility of overseeing security at seven district courts -- Tis Hazari, Rohini, Saket, Dwarka, Karkardooma, Rouse Avenue and Patiala House Court.
A number of restrictions were subsequently introduced, such as allowing only authorized vehicles bearing stickers or ID cards to enter court complexes. These measures were intended to bolster security at court facilities and prevent further violent incidents from taking place.
In the April 21 attack, the woman was shot multiple times and seriously injured.
The victim, M. Radha, in her 40s, is now in stable condition while the accused, identified as Kameshwar Kumar Singh, was arrested by the Delhi Police's Crime Branch from Faridabad, Haryana.
Singh, a resident of Chattarpur and a lawyer who is presently debarred, had entered the court complex wearing a lawyer's attire and carrying a gun.
As per the advocates at the Saket court, there are four gates for general entry, with Gate No. 5 remaining permanently closed.
Gate No. 6 can be used for exit by everyone, but only judges are permitted to enter through it. Similarly, only judges are allowed to enter through Gate No. 1, with no pedestrian entry permitted. Gate No. 2 is restricted to lawyers, police, and court staff only.
Gates No. 3 and 4 are open to all, but no vehicles are permitted to enter through them. Metal detectors are installed at Gates No. 3 and 4.
Additionally, there are an adequate number of CCTV cameras installed inside the court complex, as per the advocates.
Despite the security measures in place, the armed accused managed to gain entry to the court complex through Gate No. 3.
The security personnel at this gate claimed that they frisked everyone and checked their belongings thoroughly. However, the armed man was able to enter and subsequently fired multiple shots at a woman over a monetary dispute involving Rs 25 lakh.
Lawyers have raised concerns about the security of court premises and have called for security arrangements at the district level to bestrengthened to match those in place at the Delhi High Court and the Supreme Court.
The Delhi High Court, in December 2021, had directed the Delhi Police Commissioner to undertake periodical review of security arrangements in courts, based on security audit by an expert team, for deploying requisite number of personnel and installation of gadgets after the Rohini Court shootout.
Supreme Court lawyer Rudra Vikram Singh said that this is not the first time that lawyers' security has been compromised in court premises.
According to Singh, the recent incident represents a complete failure on the part of the police personnel deployed to secure court premises.
Singh went on to describe his observations of police personnel allowing individuals wearing black coats to enter court premises without being frisked, regardless of whether they are actually lawyers or not.
He noted that most security breaches in court facilities are carriedout by people wearing the dress of advocates.
In light of these issues, Singh called for the security arrangements at the district level to be strengthened to match those in place at the High Court and the Supreme Court.
"By doing so, it would be possible to prevent future security breaches and ensure the safety of all those who visit court facilities," said Singh.
Gurmeet Nehra, a legal scholar and member of Supreme Court Bar Association, said that according to the Indian legal system, criminalcourts are 'Open Courts', and Section 327 Cr.P.C mandates that they remain open to promote fair trials under the criminal justice system.
"However, recent incidents of security lapses in court facilities within the capital have raised concerns about the safety of those who visit these premises. The Rohini shootout is a prime example of such lapses, where assailants were able to enter a courtroom before being killed by security forces in a counter shooting," said Nehra.
In response, there have been long standing demands from advocates for an Advocates Protection Act and for proper round-the-clock security of court premises.
"No one should be allowed to enter court facilities without proper identification and frisking, and such offenders must be punished severely," said Nehra.
"These incidents undermine the rule of law, and it is imperative that proper security measures be put in place to ensure the safety of all those who visit court facilities," Nehra added.
In December 2022, Delhi Police informed the high Court that in order to strengthen the security arrangements of all the seven district courts in the national capital, 997 security personnel, including those from the local police and CAPF, have been deployed there.
In a status report filed before the high court, the Delhi Police had also said more than 2,700 CCTVs, 85 baggage scanners, 242 hand-held metal detectors and 146 door-frame metal detectors have been installed in the district courts.
The court then had listed the matter to be heard in April this year.
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