The Supreme Court on Tuesday asked the Centre to take steps to protect judges and ensure the safety of courts, reported NDTV.

The bench of Chief Justice NV Ramana and Justices Surya Kant and Aniruddha Bose was hearing a suo motu case in connection with the death of a judge in Jharkhand. The bench said that matter of judges’ safety should not be left to the states alone.

The court ordered that states should file details of security measures undertaken for judges, Live Law reported. States which fail to do so within 10 days, will have to deposit Rs 1 lakh each to the Supreme Court Bar Association Advocates’ Welfare Fund, the judges said.

The court will hear the matter again on August 27.

During Tuesday’s hearing, the Centre said it was not possible to have a dedicated security force for judges and courts, adding that states would be in a better position to deal with the matter. Solicitor General of India Tushar Mehta, representing the Centre, said the protection of judges and security of courts needed day-to-day coordination with the police.

“From coordination point of view, deployment of local police is advisable,” he added. “There can be state specific issues. The state police is better equipped to deal with surveillance of criminals, intelligence regarding threat etc. It has to be state specific instead of country specific.”

To this, the court said: “You are the best person to get this done.”

Mehta pointed out that guidelines already existed for states regarding the protection of judges and courts. The court then asked him if they were being followed.

“You are the central government, you can call DCPs [deputy commissioners of police] of states and ask for reports,” Kant said, according to Live Law. “...States are painting a rosy picture on steps being taken. But despite that, [there are] repeated incidents of attacks on judicial officers.”

The court added that states often use lack of funds as an alibi for failing to install CCTVs. “But those will only record the crime,” said the bench. “They cannot prevent a criminal from attacking and cannot prevent threats.”

Dhanbad judge’s death

Judge Uttam Anand was allegedly murdered in a hit-and-run incident on July 28 while he was on his morning jog in Dhanbad district of Jharkhand. CCTV footage of the incident showed an auto-rickshaw suddenly swerving towards the 49-year-old, who was walking on an empty road, and hitting him. The vehicle, which was reportedly stolen, then drove away.

Judge Anand had been hearing the murder case of Ranjay Singh, who was a close aide of former Bharatiya Janata Party MLA Sanjiv Singh. He had also rejected the bail applications of suspected shooters Abhinav Singh and Ravi Thakur. They have links to gangster Aman Singh, who is in jail for the killing of Dhanbad’s former Deputy Mayor Niraj Singh.

During a hearing on August 6, Chief Justice Ramana had observed that the investigating agencies in the country do not respond when judges complain about threats they receive.

“If an adverse order is passed, then judiciary is maligned,” Ramana had said. “If judges file a complaint to police or [the] CBI [Central Bureau of Investigation] they do not respond. [The] Intelligence Bureau and [the] CBI is not helping judiciary at all.”