The Delhi High Court has held that it will not be feasible or desirable to provide round-the-clock security to every retired police officer, who has investigated a murder case or handled high profile cases, and dismissed a plea for protection by retired senior Uttar Pradesh Police officer who probed the Nitish Katara murder case.

Former Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) Anil Samaniya, who retired on November 30, 2021, had submitted that he was provided with security cover since 2002 and after his retirement, the security was to be withdrawn and in that event, his life as well as that of his family members would be in grave danger.

Senior Advocate P.K. Dey appeared for the petitioner while Advocates Neeraj, Rupali Bandhopadhya and Anil Mittal appeared for the respondents.

During pendency of the matter, the court had provided him with security cover.

The former officer, who had filed the petition before his superannuation, said he was retiring after exemplary service of 40 years from the Uttar Pradesh Police and had investigated the Katara murder case in which Vikas and Vishal Yadav, son and nephew of ex-minister D P Yadav, were involved.

The High Court took into account the stand of State of Uttar Pradesh that they have analysed the threat perception of the petitioner and found that there is no threat perception found against the petitioner till now and that he was a trained police officer and has been responsible for the safety of life, limb and properties of the citizens within his jurisdiction.

Justice Jasmeet Singh said it is the State of Uttar Pradesh which is the best judge of the threat perception to the petitioner.

Once they have conducted an inquiry and come to a finding that there is no threat perception against the petitioner till now, this court cannot substitute its own judgment to that of the State authority. Once the State authority is of the view that the petitioner does not need round-the-clock security cover that in my considered view is where the matter should rest, the judge said in an order passed last month.

The High Court said if every police officer who is an investigating officer in a murder case during his service career or has handled high profile cases is to be provided round-the-clock security after retirement, it will neither be feasible nor desirable.

It said the Court is always open to protect all citizens and their rights including those officials involved in sensitive cases. However, when there is no threat perceived or seen to be present, it will be a waste of State resources, time and machinery and able officers of the police force to provide the same. There is an abundance of cases and crimes yet to be investigated, in the process of investigation and still to be adjudicated by this court, wherein the State machinery is required, it said.

The Court observed, I must take cognisance of the fact that not only are the courts overly burdened with cases, the police officials are as well. To delegate some of that force to the petitioner, in light of the fact that there is no evidence on record to show the threat to the petitioner's life will be inequitable.

Samaniya's counsel had submitted that Nitish Katara's mother Nilam Katara and Ajay Katara, who were witnesses in the murder case, have already been provided with round-the-clock security looking at the threat perception.

The counsel for Uttar Pradesh said the petitioner was trained to be well versed not only in the art of self defence but also in defending other people under his charge.

While dismissing the petition, the High Court said it is the State which has all relevant information, the expertise and the confidential information to evaluate threat perceptions to various individuals.

I am not to sit in the armchair of the State and analyse the threat perception to an individual citizen. It is the job of a State to protect the life, limb and property of its subjects, the judge said.

The High Court said it cannot be lost sight that the petitioner was a trained police officer having held sensitive and important positions over his career of 40 years now.

It noted that the petitioner has a 0.315 bore rifle as well as a 0.32 bore revolver with duly authorised license and has the ability to defend himself if required.

The High Court, however, said the State of UP shall be mindful of the security and threat perception to the petitioner and will take remedial measures as and when the situation may arise.

On October 3, 2016, the Supreme Court had awarded a 25-year jail term without any benefit of remission to Vikas Yadav and his cousin Vishal for their role in the sensational kidnapping and killing of Katara.

Another co-convict Sukhdev Pehalwan was also handed down a 20-year jail term in the case.

All three were convicted and sentenced for kidnapping Nitish Katara from a marriage party on the intervening night of February 16-17, 2002 and then killing him for his alleged affair with Bharti Yadav, the sister of Vikas. Bharti is the daughter of Uttar Pradesh politician D P Yadav.

Cause Title: Anil Samaniya v. Union of India & Ors.

Click here to read/download Judgment

With PTI inputs