The Supreme Court on Wednesday appointed a five-member committee headed by Justice (retd) Indu Malhotra to investigate the security breach that left Prime Minister Narendra Modi stranded on a flyover in Punjab for 20 minutes.
A bench headed by Chief Justice NV Ramana also appointed the Inspector-General of the National Investigation Agency, Director-General of Police of Chandigarh, the Registrar- General of the Punjab and Haryana High Court and the additional DGP (security) of Punjab as panel members.
“These questions cannot be left upon any one-sided enquiry. We need an independent probe,” the court said, adding that the committee would submit its report “at the earliest”.
The committee will inquire into what caused the breach, who was responsible and what safeguards are needed to prevent such lapses in future.
A political row broke out after Modi, on his way to a rally last Wednesday, was stranded for about 20 minutes on a flyover in Bathinda as it was blocked by protesting farmers.
In the middle of an intense campaign for the February 14 Punjab election, the incident ignited a political row with the Centre and the state government swapping allegations of lapses in protocol and setting up separate investigations.
Earlier, the SC had asked the BJP-ruled Centre and the Congress government in Punjab to hold their investigations.
The Centre told the court during arguments that there was “complete intelligence failure” and that there has been a “clear violation of the SPG (Special Protection Group) Act”. It said the state had provided no information to the PM’s security detail that there were protesters on the route.
The Punjab government said it had no role in the last-minute change in the PM’s plans, who was originally flying to the site by helicopter but could not because of poor weather.
The Congress also accused the BJP of using the security breach charges to cover up the embarrassment of thin crowds at the rally that Modi was to address.