Citizens should pay for protection as per revised policy: Maharashtra to HC

Advocate General Ashutosh Kumbhakoni told a bench of Chief Justice Manjula Chellur and Justice MS Sonak that citizens could not make a claim to receive police protection as a matter of "right".

Citizens should pay for protection as per revised policy: Maharashtra to HC

Mumbai: The Maharashtra government on Thursday told the Bombay High Court that it has revised its police protection policy wherein only those private citizens would be provided security who have a real threat to their life and they would have to foot the bill for it.

Appearing for the state government, Advocate General Ashutosh Kumbhakoni told a bench of Chief Justice Manjula Chellur and Justice MS Sonak that citizens could not make a claim to receive police protection as a matter of "right".

"They must also not think that police protection is a service provided by the state that they can avail simply by paying the service charge," he said.

As per the new policy submitted by Kumbhakoni today, all private citizens, including celebrities, would henceforth receive police protection only if a real threat to their lives was perceived.

"And all those private persons, whose applications for such protection is approved by the state authorities, will have to pay fees for the same in advance, or deposit a bank guarantee in lieu of the same," the top legal officer said.

He said the revised fees for such protection would be computed on a new formula that would take into account several considerations, including the salaries of the police personnel deployed as bodyguards.

"Such fees, however, will not exceed 15 per cent of the total monthly income of the person receiving police protection," he told the high court.

Also, people, with monthly income less than Rs 50,000, need not pay any fees if their applications for police protection were approved.

"Politicians who get bodyguards to accompany them while on official duty, and government and semi-government staff, who get police protection to help discharge public duties, however, will not have to pay any fees for such protection," the advocate general said.

The revisions in the policy were made in compliance with a previous order of the high court directing the state government to streamline its process of providing police protection to politicians as well as private persons.

Earlier this week, the bench headed by the chief justice had directed the government to recover dues from all such private persons who enjoyed police protection for years but failed to pay for it.

The bench had also directed the state to ensure a periodic review of the status of each applicant to ensure that one was not given police protection indefinitely irrespective of any threat perception to his life.

The bench was hearing a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by a lawyer seeking directions to the state police to recover dues from VIPs, including politicians and film actors, who were provided security cover, but did not pay the charges for the same.

Stressing that the government would ensure that all pending dues for police protection were recovered, Kumbhakoni said a state-level committee headed by the director general of police would henceforth review the status of all such persons every six months.

He said the state had also amended its decision to not grant any protection to people with a criminal record.

"Such applications will be scrutinized on a case to case basis and the deserving applicants will be given protection," he said.

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