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Supreme Court allows center to sue security blanket for Ambani family


A Supreme Court bench headed by India’s Chief Justice said the center could continue to provide security cover to the Ambani family and dismissed a petition for public interest litigation (PIL) in the High Court of Tripura which had challenged the deployment of security by the government for the developers of Reliance.

As is current practice, the Ambani family, the bench said, will pay the costs of maintaining this security blanket.

In an order issued on July 22, the court noted that the petitioner in the case had no legal standing to challenge the security details provided to a private person by means of a PIL.

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The case had reached the Supreme Court after the center challenged an order issued by the Tripura High Court on the PIL requesting the government to provide a situation report relating to the perceived threat to the Ambani family justifying a detail of security.

The high court’s order was stayed by the high court in June, after which the case was heard in detail.

During the court of argument, Solicitor General of India Tushar Mehta questioned the locus standi, or legal status of the petitioner, to agitate the issue in court. The government lawyer also argued in court that the security deployment is granted after a thorough analysis of any perceived threat.

The bench headed by the Chief Justice of India questioned the petitioner on his locus standi and asked, “What is your location and why are you bothered with security? The government is here, they will take care of it. Why are you bothered? It’s about someone’s security”, reported LiveLaw.

Lead attorney Harish Salve, representing the Ambani family, informed the court that the family was footing the bill for the security detail and there was no established case for a PIL case.

In its detailed order, the high court noted the recent incident of a bomb threat outside the billionaire businessman’s residence and noted that “one party’s perception of the threat is based on information received from relevant agencies”.

“It is undisputed that Private Defendants Nos. 2 to 6 (members of the Ambani family) are the promoters and managers of some of India’s largest and most important companies. There is no reason not to not believe in the existence of a threat to the lives of Respondents Nos. 2 through 6,” the trial panel noted in its order.

The high court observed in its order that the government proceeded with the provision of security blanket after being fully aware of the perceived threat and therefore there was no reason to receive the PIL “filed by a third party who has not proven its locus”.

Finding that a similar petition filed in the Bombay High Court had also been dismissed, the High Court proceeded to set aside this POA and terminated the proceedings in the Tripura High Court.

The court ordered the center to continue to provide adequate security for the Ambani family at its own expense, as instructed by the Bombay High Court in an earlier proceeding.

Disclosure: Network18, the parent company of CNBCTV18.com, is controlled by Independent Media Trust, of which Reliance Industries is the sole beneficiary.

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