Bill to restrict SPG cover to PM in LS

Bill to restrict SPG cover to PM in LS

Agency News

New Delhi, Nov26: Amid ruckus in the Lok Sabha on Maharashtra issue on Monday, the Government introduced Special Protection Group (SPG) Amendment Bill 2019.

The bill, introduced by the Minister of State for Home Affairs G Kishan Reddy, seeks to amend certain provisions of the SPG Act, 1988. According to the proposed amendments in the Bill, the elite security cover of SPG will be restricted to the Prime Minister in office, his or her immediate family and only for five years to the former Prime Minister from the date of demiting the office.

Immediate family members of former PMs will get SPG security as well as long as they are residing with the former PM at the allotted residence. The family will lose the security once the former PM loses it as well. This technically means if an ex-PM dies, his immediate family members would not be entitled to SPG cover.

It is considered essential 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, according to the statement of objects and reasons given in the Bill.

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, the statement said. In 2003, it was last amended to extend SPG cover to former Prime Ministers and their immediate family members for one year of the demitting office of Prime Minister and thereafter based on level of threat periodically assessed by the Central Government. ' The SPG Act was first enacted in 1988 to provide for the regulation of the Special Protection Group as an armed force of country for providing proximate security to the Prime Minister and his or her immediate family.

In the Act, there was no cut off period for providing the SPG protection to former Prime Ministers or members of their immediate families.

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 the resources, training and related infrastructure of SPG, which impacting the effectiveness of SPG in providing adequate cover to the principle protectee “the Prime Minister in office”.

The SPG Act amendment bill comes days after the Centre removed SPG cover for the Gandhi family. Interim Congress President Sonia Gandhi, her son and Congress MP Rahul Gandhi and daughter Priyanka Gandhi Vadra were till recently were being protected by the SPG. Earlier, SPG cover was also removed for former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh who is now getting Z plus security of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF). (UNI)