The Special Protection Group (Amendment) Bill, 2019 amends the Act to state that the SPG will provide security to the Prime Minister, and members of his immediate family residing with him at his official residence. It will also provide security to any former Prime Ministers, and his immediate family members residing with him at the residence allotted to him.
By: Raksha Chauhan, 3rd year, Ramaiah Institute of Legal Studies
The Special Protection Group is an elite force comprising the personnel from the CRPF, Border Security Force and other Central and State forces, raised for the protection of the Prime Minister, former Prime Ministers and their immediate family members. The Special Protection Group (SPG) Act came into being in the year 1988, after the assassination of former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi in 1984.
A Committee of Secretaries decided to entrust the security of the Prime Minister to a Special Group under the Special Task Force (STF) and the unitary and direct control of an assigned Officer to provide proximate security cover anywhere in the world. The Ministry of Home Affairs set up the Birbal Nath Committee on 18th February 1985 to look into the issue and to submit its recommendation. The Committee submitted its recommendations in March, 1985 of raising a Special Protection Unit (SPU).
Special Protection Group Act, 1988
- The Special Protection Act was raised in order to provide security to the Prime Minister and their immediate family members during his/her tenure.
- SPG cover was also given to former Prime Minister and their immediate family members living with him at his official residence or any other place for a period of one year from the date on which he ceases to hold the office.
- The SPG Act stated that if the SPG security cover is withdrawn from a former Prime Minister, it will also stand to be withdrawn from his immediate family members unless the threat level faced by the family member mandates such security.
- The Act also propounded to provide SPG security based on the level of threat perceived as decided by the Union Government.
- The Act stated that the SPG security can be renewed and will be provided in cases if the threat:
- Emanates from a military or terrorist organization
- Is of a grave and continuing nature
Special Protection Group (Amendment) 1991
The SPG was first amended in 1991 when Rajiv Gandhi was assassinated. His SPG cover was withdrawn as per the provisions of law after he lost power in 1989 and later, he was assassinated by LTTE in Tamil Nadu 21st May 1991, when his security was the responsibility of the respective state police. After his assassination, the Act was amended to extend security cover to former prime ministers and members of their immediate families for at least 10 years.
The Act was further amended in 1994, 1999 and 2003. In 2003, the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government amended the Act in which period of ten years was reduced to one year.
Special Protection Group (Amendment) Bill, 2019
The SPG (Amendment) Bill, 2019 states that the SPG security will be provided to the Prime Minister and his immediate family members living with him at his official residence. The bill also states that the SPG security will be provided to former Prime Minister and his immediate family members for 5 years from the date he demits from the office.
The bill’s provision states that if the SPG cover is withdrawn from the Prime Minister, then the SPG cover also stands withdrawn from the immediate family members of the Prime Minister. Further, no matter the level of threat perceived to the immediate family members of the former Prime Minister, they will not be covered under SPG but other security covers can be provided.
Under the bill, only those family members will be covered with SPG security who are residing with the Prime Minister or former PM at their residence.
The main objective of the Special Protection Group (Amendment) Bill, 2019 is to ensure maximum security of the Prime Minister and to make SPG Act more effective as no compromise can be made on his security.
The Special Protection Group Act, 1988 was amended in the view to ensure the effective security of Prime Ministers as they are under constant threat. The safety of the Prime Minister is of great importance for governance and national security. The Act is amended periodically to maintain its efficiency and effectiveness as its sole focus is to provide proximate security to the head of the nation. Other VVIPs will be provided with Z plus security or other securities. The amendment of the Act in 2019 faced the walk out of the congress party as the Gandhi family was no more covered under the SPG Act. The Bill was highly objected by the opposition though it got approved in both the houses of Parliament.