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New Delhi, Feb 28 – The Supreme Court has directed that highest Z+ security cover should be provided to billionaire businessman Mukesh Ambani and his family across the country and also while traveling abroad.
A bench of Justices Krishna Murari and Ahsanuddin Amanullah said: “Highest Z+ security cover provided to respondent nos. 2 to 6 (Ambanis) shall be available all across India and the same is to be ensured by the state of Maharashtra and Ministry of Home Affairs. Highest Level Z+ Security Cover, as per the policy of Government of India, be also provided, while respondent nos. 2 to 6 are traveling abroad and the same shall be ensured by the Ministry of Home Affairs.”
The bench added that the entire expenses and cost of providing highest level Z+ security cover to the Ambanis within India or abroad shall be borne by them.
The top court passed the above directions noting that “the security cover provided to the respondent nos. 2 to 6 has been the subject matter of controversy at different places and in different high courts”.
Senior advocate Mukul Rohtagi, appearing for the Ambanis, contended that the highest level of Z+ security cover was provided to them, in view of continuous threat perception assessed by Mumbai Police and Ministry of Home Affairs and the Central government.
The top court passed the order on an application filed by Bikash Saha in the Centre’s special leave petition challenging the Tripura High Court’s interim orders directing the Ministry of Home Affairs to produce the original files regarding threat perception in relation to Mukesh Ambani and his family. The high court directed that an MHA officer should appear before it with the relevant files in sealed cover in June last year.
On July 22 last year, the Supreme Court quashed the Tripura High Court proceedings in connection with the PIL questioning the security cover provided to industrialist and his family in Mumbai. However, Saha again filed a miscellaneous application seeking clarification of the July order.
Counsel for the applicant contended that in the July order as it stands, there is lot of scope of misinterpretation of the said order, unless it is clarified that the scope of the said order was restricted to providing of security cover to the Ambanis only exclusively within Maharashtra, which is the place of business and residence for them.
Rohatgi submitted that his clients are at continued risk of being targeted to financially de-stabilise the country and such risk exists not only throughout India as also when the said respondents are traveling abroad.
Disposing of the application filed by Saha, the top court said: “We are of the considered opinion that if there is a security threat, the security cover provided and that too at own expense of the respondents, cannot be restricted to a particular area or place of stay. Looking into the business activities of the respondent nos. 2 to 6 within the country as also outside the country, the very purpose of providing security cover would stand frustrated, if the same is restricted to a particular place or area.”