Centre introduces Bill to amend SPG Act in Lok Sabha

‘Former PM’s family won’t get security if don’t reside along’

November 25, 2019 03:02 pm | Updated June 08, 2020 10:35 pm IST - New Delhi

A file photo of SPG members escorting PM's vehicle.

A file photo of SPG members escorting PM's vehicle.

Minister of State for Home G. Kishan Reddy on Monday introduced the Special Protection Group (Amendment) Bill, 2019, amid din in the Lok Sabha as the House erupted in protests against political developments in Maharashtra.

The statement of objects and reasons of the Bill said that it is “considered to amend the Act to focus on core mandate, as the security of the Prime Minister, as Head of the Government, is of paramount importance for Government, governance and national security.”

As per the Bill, “SPG shall provide proximate security to the Prime Minister and his immediate family members residing with him at his official residence.”

The Bill says that family members of a former Prime Minister who do not reside with him at his official residence will not be guarded by SPG commandos and those who reside with him at his allotted accommodation will get security cover of the SPG only for five years.

The SPG Act was enacted in 1988 to provide for the constitution and regulation of the SPG as an armed force to provide proximate security to the Prime Minister and his/her immediate family members. The Act was amended in 1991, 1994, 1999 and 2003 to extend SPG cover to former Prime Ministers and their immediate family members for different periods of demitting office.

CRPF cover

The amendment comes days after the government withdrew the SPG security cover provided to Congress president Sonia Gandhi and her children Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra. The SPG cover was replaced with Z plus security cover by the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF). The 3,000 strong force currently protects only Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

The Bill says that in the existing Act there is no cut-off period for providing SPG protection to former Prime Ministers or members of their immediate families.

Constraint on resources

“Thus, the number of individuals to be provided SPG cover can potentially become quite large. In such a scenario, there can be severe constraint on resources, training and related infrastructure of the SPG. This can also impact the effectiveness of the elite force in providing adequate cover to the principle protectee — the Prime Minister in office,” the statement of objects and reasons said.

“It assumes special significance in the given geo-political context of the country, its hostile neighbourhood and the multi-layered dimensions of threat the country is exposed to. In recognition of this critical security imperative for the Prime Minister in office, a special enactment was made to constitute the SPG with the sole objective of providing proximate security to the Prime Minister and the members of his immediate family,” the statement said.

The Bill says that when the proximate security is withdrawn from a former Prime Minister, such proximate security shall also stand withdrawn from members of his or her immediate family.

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