A division bench of Chief Justice Mohit Shah and Justice M S Sancklecha today dismissed the public interest litigation filed by two social activists Nitin Deshpande and Vikrant Karnik seeking quashing of the April 21 order of the Union government, which gave CRPF security to Ambani.
"There is nothing in the CRPF Act or rules that take away the executive powers of the central government to provide protection to a private person or entity. It is up to the authority to scrutinise and decide on demand for protection, " the court said.
The court relied on a 1955 judgement of the Supreme Court which said the Centre can take executive decisions and need not wait for the Parliament to enact or amend the law. "The executive powers of the central government are co-existent with the legislative power of the Parliament," the High Court said today, quoting the apex court order.
The bench further said that the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) can be deployed for protection and prevention of crime. "CRPF may be deployed anywhere in India not only for restoration of law and order but also for any other purpose as decided by the Centre," Chief Justice Shah said.
The petitioners' lawyer Ashish Mehta argued that in 2009, the CISF Act was amended so that they could provide protection to private installations like oil refineries. "Similarly, if CRPF commandos are deployed for protection of private persons, then even the CRPF Act and rules should be amended," Mehta said.
"If you (petitioner) do not have objection to CISF providing protection to oil refineries then why are you raising objection to protection given to the person who put these oil refineries?" Chief Justice Shah queried.
The court further said that it cannot entertain PILs filed for publicity and that the petitioner should specify some illegality and injustice therein.
The government had sanctioned security after Ambani's office informed the Mumbai police about threatening letters purportedly sent by terror group Indian Mujahideen (IM).
Additional Solicitor General Kevic Setalvad argued that Ambani, who has been provided 25 CRPF commandos, is paying around Rs 15 lakh every month towards the protection.
According to the PIL, CRPF is constituted to tackle emergency situations, and not for day-to-day law and order duties. "The service of the CRPF is required only when there arises situation of national emergency, terrorist attacks, internal disturbances, riots or otherwise which is beyond the control of the local police," it states.
It further says that such security is given only to high-risk individuals including Cabinet ministers, chief ministers, Supreme Court and High Court judges, leading politicians and senior bureaucrats.