In light of the shoot-out at the Rohini district Court, the Madhya Pradesh High Court has drawn up a Standard Operating Procedure to strengthen the security around the Court premises. The court also observed similar attacks that have taken place several times in the District Courts in Madhya Pradesh. It further noted that these courts had no security and security consciousness.
Consequently, in order to assist in making courts a safer place, the security has been described across three stages namely; perimeter, proximate and personal. The first stage; perimeter security is where the probable assailant is attempting to enter the court premises. Proximate security is the second stage which is where the assailant has fallen through the perimeter security and entered the Court complex. The last measure taken for the security deals with the security of the Judge and the staff inside the court.
Given below are the highlights from the SOP.
SOP for the Madhya Pradesh State Bar Council
- The Madhya Pradesh State Bar Council will be the sole authority to issue personal RFID cards to the advocates on their rolls.
- The State Bar Council will prepare a computer sheet based integrated application form for personal RFID. The application will be simple but will require mandatory details relating to
(a) the name and parentage of the applicant
(b) the registration number of the applicant with the Bar Council
(c) his/her mobile number
(d) his photograph
(e) address proof, etc.
- The application will be verified by the Bar Association of which the applicant is a member and endorsed by the authorised office bearer and only then will the completed form be entertained by the Bar Council.
- The Bar Council will make necessary arrangements for receiving the digital copy of the completed application form through e-Mail and/or a mobile app, compatible with Android and iOS.
- For follow-up, a machine-generated receipt that contains a reference number will be issued to the applicant.
- The application will be verified by confirming the identity of the applicant by ensuring that the name, photograph, registration number and parentage of the applicant are synchronized with the data available with the Bar Council.
- Once the identity verification of the applicant is done, the Bar Council will issue the RFID card (personal) to the applicant on payment of such fees.
- Upon issuance, the registration number of the application must be blocked to prevent a second RFID card. In case of loss or damage to the card, the Bar Council will take immediate steps to block the card permanently.
- The Bar Council will also set up a helpline number dedicated to reporting problems related to the RFID card, including its loss or damage.
SOP for Advocates
- Advocates will fill up the application form given by the State Bar Council for availing of the RFID cards. The information given in the form must be endorsed as correct by the President of Bar Association or authorised office-bearer after verification with the Membership Register.
- The completed applications are to be uploaded through email/mobile app as provided by the State Bar Council and the advocate will retain the receipt and registration number until he receives the RFID card.
- The RFID card issued to the advocate will be non-transferable. The entry into the Court, without it, will necessitate physical frisking of the advocate which will, in turn, lead to producing the identity card issued by the State Bar Council.
- Outstation advocates appearing before the courts in Madhya Pradesh will be extended the privilege of entry into the court premises without physical frisking, upon being identified by the local advocate. But the entry of the outstation advocate will be made by the security staff at the point of entry in the register.
- Outstation advocates engaged with local clients but unidentified by a local advocate will be physically frisked by the entrance security.
- Loss or damage to the RFID card (personal or vehicle) will be immediately intimated to the State Bar Council on its helpline in order to disable the lost card.
- The cost of the RFID card, as may be determined by the State Bar Council from time to time, shall be borne by the advocate who is applying.
SOP for High Court, District And Tahsil Bar Associations
- The Bar Association office bearers will verify the details and endorse with his signature and official seal upon placing the completed forms before it. The same shall mean that the verification of the application has been undergone at its level and the details given therein are found to be correct.
- Once the applicant uploads the digital version of the application, the Bar Association will retain the physical form for one year.
SOP for Vehicles
- Recognized Bar Associations by the Bar Council will be the sole authority responsible for issuing vehicle RFID cards to its member advocates registered with the State Bar Council.
- Concerning the issuance of RFID stickers, only vehicles registered in the name of advocates or their family members i.e. wife, son or daughter will be eligible. For advocates in the court premises, entry into designated parking areas will be given to vehicles with RFID stickers.
- The advocate will fill up the application on computer forms issued by the Bar Association for vehicle sticker RFID. The form should include options for four-wheelers and two-wheelers and the design of the RFID stickers would differ in both cases. In addition to the application form, the copy of the registration card of the vehicle is to be registered in the name of the advocate or his family members (wife, son or daughter). Along with this, the advocate registration number with the Bar Council is to be submitted.
- To provide seamless entry of vehicles with RFID stickers, automatic boom barriers will be fixed at the entrance gate for vehicles. It should also be ensured by advocates that vehicles with RFID stickers are not borrowed by anyone, except on days when the court is closed or after its working hours.
- It will be the duty of the advocate possessing the RFID card to record the names of the non-advocate passengers in the vehicle. They are to be recorded in the relevant register at the entrance so that they may be physically frisked.
- Electric vehicles which do not require registration, and which do not qualify for RFID stickers, will not be allowed into Court premises. However, those with registration numbers qualify for RFID stickers and requirements in S. No. 3 will be applicable.
- Advocates who use bicycles will not require an RFID sticker but their entry into the Court premises will be allowed once the bicycle is checked by the security staff.
SOP for Employees Of The High Court And District Courts
- The Registrar General of the Madhya Pradesh High Court will be solely authorized for the issuance of RFID cards and vehicle stickers to the employees of the High Court for the Principal Bench at Jabalpur.
- Concerning RFID cards and vehicle stickers, the Principal Registrar of the Benches at Indore and Gwalior will be the authority to issue the same to the employees of the Bench at Indore and Gwalior respectively.
- The personal RFID cards will be issued to all employees, without the requirement of an application, on the rolls of the High Court.
- The Registrar General’s office must keep a record of the RFID’s issued to all the employees of the High Court at the Principal Bench. The Principal Registrars of the benches at Indore and Gwalior will also maintain a record. For issues related to RFID cards, they are to also set up a permanent helpline number for issues concerning the RFID cards.
- The District Judge will be in charge for the purpose of issuing the RFID cards to all the employees of the District Court and the Tahsil Courts. A record must also be maintained of those receiving the RFID cards by the District Judge.
- “SOP FOR VEHICLES” will apply to the employees of the High Court and the District Courts and applications will be addressed to the Registrar General, the Principal Registrar at the benches and the District Judge.
- The employee will notify the loss of or damage to the card (personal or vehicle) on the helpline number in order to disable the card.
- A provision for issuing temporary RFID cards for interns or law clerks posted at the various courts will be made by the benches.
SOP for Subordinate Courts
- The SOP framed by the Madhya Pradesh High Court will be applicable to all the stakeholders of the subordinate Courts.
- Each Principal District Judge/Principal Family Court Judge/Senior most Judge of the respective districts/Tahsils is to have exclusive authority to take decisions as per the requirement of the place and situation subject to the SOP.
- Every stakeholder of the judicial fraternity will strictly comply with the SOP.
- Each Principal District Judge/ Principal Family Court Judge/Senior most Judge of the respective districts/Tahsils will nominate responsible staff members with the intent to supervise the safety norms. This will be done by carrying daily inspections in their respective Court premises.
- The judicial officers of subordinate Courts will ensure that advocates and the staff members practicing in their courts will abide by this SOP.
- Each Principal District Judge/Principal Family Court Judge/Senior most Judge of the respective districts/Tahsils will ensure compliance with the SOP by the Bar Association of the respective districts. Along with this, they will ensure adherence to the SOP with the help of the Chief Judicial Magistrate and District Registrar of their respective districts. Moreover, they will also allocate a designated place for advocates vehicles’ parking.
- The entry of all the advocates in the Court complex will be allowed by duly observing the SOP.
- The Court premises which include the Bar Association building/chambers are to remain open on all Court working days between 09:30 AM to 06:30 PM only or subject to the orders of the Principal District Judge/Principal Family Court Judge/Senior most Judge of the District/Tahsil Court.
- Each Principal District Judge/Principal Family Court Judge/Senior most Judge of the respective districts/Tahsils will define the entry and exit gates. They will also regularly oversee the effective functionality of the security setup.
The notification provides further measures to aid in the smooth implementation of the SOP such as the construction of boundary walls with barbed wire around the outer periphery of the court campus and deploying special security forces such as CSIF at the district Court premises and the residential accommodations of judicial officers. In its essence, the SOP aims to put in place a discipline to be followed by the learned members of the legal profession and ensure their own security to make courts a safer place.