The Special Protection Group (Amendment) Bill 2019 was introduced in LokSabha by the Minister of Home Affairs Mr Amit Shah on November 25th 2019 and passed on 27th November 2019. The Bill amends the Special Protections Group(SPG) Act 1988.
The Special Protection Group Act 1988 provides for the
1) constitution and regulation of the Special Protection Group (SPG)
2) to provide security to the Prime Minister and their immediate family members.
3) It also provides security to former Prime Ministers and their immediate family members for a period of one year from the date on which they cease to hold the office.
4) Beyond this period, SPG security is provided based on the level of threat as decided by the central government.
The threat must:
(i)emanate from a military or terrorist organisation, and
(ii) be of a grave and continuing nature.
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Amendments made through this Special Protection Group (Amendment) Bill, 2019
- The SPG will provide security to the Prime Minister, and members of his immediate family residing with him at his official residence.
- SPG will also provide security to any former Prime Ministers, and his immediate family members residing with him at the residence allotted to him. This security will be provided for a period of five years from the date on which he ceases to hold the office of Prime Minister.
The SPG Act provides that if the SPG security is withdrawn from a former Prime Minister, it will also be withdrawn from his immediate family members unless the level of threat faced by the immediate family member warrants such security.
3. The Bill removes this condition to state that if the SPG security is withdrawn from a former Prime Minister, it will also be withdrawn from his immediate family members.
The debate in LokSabha :
accused the Centre of “vendetta politics”. As far as the Congress is concerned, the impression conveyed is that these amendments are being done to remove the security cover of the Gandhi family.
Senior Congress leader Manish Tewari asked the Centre why SPG cover had been withdrawn from Manmohan Singh and the Gandhi family without amending the bill. Tewari also quoted the Justice Verma report on the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi, which cited that he had not been extended adequate SPG cover.
Home Minister Amit Shah reply :
1)Threat assessment was done as per the old Act itself and then SPG security was removed from Gandhi family and Manmohan Singh.
2) SPG review highlighted
a) Sonia Gandhi did not use her SPG bullet resistant (BR) vehicle on many occasions between May 2015 and 2019
b) Rahul Gandhi travelled in non-BR vehicles in Delhi, while on 247 occasions till June 2019, he travelled in a non-BR vehicle outside Delhi.
3) No Congress members said anything when
a) former Prime Minister Chandrashekhar’s SPG security cover was removed
b) former Prime Minister Narasimha Rao’s SPG security cover was removed
c) former Prime Minister I.K. Gujral’s SPG security cover was removed
d) even when former PM Manmohan Singh’s security cover was changed
So, Are Congress members worried about the country or one family? …..Home Minister Amit Shah replied
Amit Shah emphasised that the security cover of the Gandhi family has not been reduced or taken away, rather it has just been changed from SPG cover to ‘Z Plus’ security cover by the CRPF, along with ASL (Advance Security Liaison) and ambulance, across the country.
“The level of the security cover has been maintained and not even one security personnel has been reduced,”
Amit Shah said that the main aim of bringing this amendment is to make SPG more efficient. This would ensure that no omission happens in carrying out its core mandate, as the security of the Prime Minister, as Head of the Government, is of paramount importance for Government, governance and national security.