The Centre also supported a petition in the Supreme Court for a thorough probe into the security breach and sought involvement of the NIA in the investigation as there was a possibility of “international terrorist angle”.
The Centre’s action comes two days after PM Modi had to cut short his visit to Punjab after he was stuck on a flyover for 20 minutes due to a blockade by some protesters. The incident was dubbed as a “major lapse” in security by the home ministry.
According to PTI, Bathinda Senior Superintendent of Police Ajay Maluja and the five other officers were responsible for PM Modi’s security during his visit to the state on January 5 and they have been asked to reply to MHA’s notices.
The identity of the other officers were not disclosed immediately, but sources said they are police officers on the rank of SSP, DIG and above.
The home ministry, through its showcause notices, has asked the officers as to why action should not be initiated against them under the law including disciplinary proceedings as prescribed in the All India Services (Discipline and Appeal), Rules, 1969, for the acts of omission and commission.
The punishment under the said rules include suspension, compulsory retirement, censure and withholding of promotions if found guilty.
However, action against the “delinquent” officers will be taken only after a thorough inquiry.
Three-member panel to probe incident
The Central government on Thursday constituted a three-member committee, led by Sudhir Kumar Saxena, Secretary (Security), Cabinet Secretariat, and comprising of Balbir Singh, Joint Director of the Intelligence Bureau, and S Suresh, IG, Special Protection Group, to enquire into the incident.
The committee is advised to submit the report at the earliest.
After he was stranded on the flyover due to a blockade by protesters, PM Modi had to return from the poll-bound state without attending any event, including a rally.
The home ministry had directed the state government to file an immediate report, asserting it did not ensure the required deployment.
Home minister Amit Shah said that such dereliction of the security procedure during the Prime Minister’s visit is totally unacceptable and accountability will be fixed.
Centre terms case unique, seeks NIA probe
Solicitor general Tushar Mehta, representing the central government, told the Supreme Court that PM Modi’s convoy started from Bhatinda by road on January 5 only after an assurance was given by the Director General of Punjab Police that the route was clear.
The law officer also pointed out that one Pannu claiming to be the chairman of the banned terrorist organisation Sikhs for Justice (SFJ) based in the US and the UK had already circulated a video much before the visit of the Prime Minister.
“There being a possibility of an international terrorist angle, the involvement of National Investigating Agency (NIA) would be absolutely necessary,” he said.
He sought a direction that all documents concerning the movement of PM Modi from Bhatinda onwards in the form of wireless messages, register entries be collected by a neutral person who should be assisted by an officer of the NIA.
“This is a sui generis (unique) case which could have caused international embarrassment and pointed out that whenever the PM Modi’s convoy travels by road, the SPG first consults the Director General of the concerned State to know whether the route on which the Hon’ble prime minister is to travel is clear from the safety point of view,” the law officer said.
SC halts probe by Centre & Punjab govt
Later, the Supreme Court directed the registrar general of Punjab and Haryana high court to secure and preserve all records relating to visit of the Prime Minister to Punjab forthwith.
The top court also asked both the Centre and Punjab government to halt any proceedings into the incident till Monday, when it would hear the matter again.
The SC said some officer from NIA should assist the HC registrar general in collecting the evidence including wireless messages relating to PM’s visit as the Registrar General may not be aware of the sources from where the records are to be obtained.
(With inputs from PTI)