The Special Protection Group( Amendment) Act, 2019

Author: Ayushi Patidar, 3rd Year, B.A LL.B (Hons), School of Law, Jagran Lakecity University. The article has been written by the author while pursuing the internship programme with us. Introduction The year 2019 has been a very uncanny year in itself , not only some of the major but the most bold and undoubtedly unscathed legislation and decision have marked the scruples in the Country , also their swiftness have appalled the onlookers. The government has brought about major legislations and amendments one after the other, amongst these, one is the amendment done in the SPG, the Special Protection Group, (Amendment),2019. The parliament passed the SPG Amendment bill, 2019 on 3rd December,2019 and soon after it was enforced on 10th December, the same year. The prime Minister is the de facto head of the government as well as of the country, being pivotal and obtrusively important in a position of a great peril requires utmost protection, hence in our epitome of a democratic country like India, there is an special Act, and legislation which deals with the protection of the Prime minister , with the virtue of the post of the person who is the Prime Minister of the largest democratic nation in the world. Historical perspective The Special Protection Group (SPG) came into force after the recommendation of the Birbal Nath Committee and is functional as per an executive order since the year 1985, it was only in the year 1988 that the legislature passed the SPG , Act 1988, the need of a special Force which can protect the PM was an important decision taken after the assasination of Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, it became a decision of utmost priority as before this Act, no other legislation was made for the security and protection of the Prime Minister, the SPG have ever since undergone various amendment in the year 1991, 1994 , 1999 and 2003 consequently. The SPG came into the limelight in the year 2019 when the BJP led govt brought the SPG amendment Bill, in Lok Sabha certain provisions regarding the security of the Prime Minister and that of the Former PM and his family members were altered by the amendment . Past Amendments, Comparison and Changes In the Past the SPG has undergone changes from time to time, previously in the year 1991 and then in 2003. Changes made in the 2019 Amendment The provision for the protection with regard to the former Prime Minister and his immediate family members were added in the Act. 1. Previously before the 2019 Amendment section 4(2)[1] said that the SPG will provide security to the former Prime Minister and his immediate family, and there was no time lapse provided the former prime minister and his family were having the protection of SPG for as long as the centre thought they were in threat or danger, but after the amendment the new provision of the Act clearly establishes that the SPG, will provide security only to the current PM, and the PM of previous term for five years, taking away the SPG security from Past PM and their families. 2. The point clearly entails that the security has been limited to the PM and his immediate family member, provided that they are residing along with him. 3. Another one of a more emphasised point is elucidated for the security of Former Prime Minister, the former Prime Minister will be provide with an SPG after he ceases his office of PM till other five consecutive year along with his immediate family members residing with him, after that he will not have the SPG protection but the Z+ security[2]. 4. The earlier provision of the Act clearly emphasised , that the former Prime Minister and his immediate family members will be entitled to the SPG for a year after he ceases his office of PM , but if the central govt think that there is an imminent threat to the Former PM the Central can review and further provide the security , the key point here is that the former PM and his family members were having this benefit for year innumerable and now the recent amendment has deduced the SPG just for the protection of PM and the former PM for another five years. Objectives of the Act. ● The Act aims at providing Protection to the prime Minister and his immediate family residing at his official residence. ● It will also provide security to the former PM and his immediate family member residing at his residence for the period of five year after he ceases the office of the PM. Training and Functions of SPG ● The SPG runs with the motto of “Shauryan;Samarpan;Suraksham” meaning Bravery, devotion and protection. ● The SPG is an elite security Force under which commanders of excellence from the CRPF, SSB, CSIF and IPS cadre are selected to effectively run and administer the security service. ● The officers of high peak physical fitness are chosen from their patent cadre batch, thereafter the officer has to go for an advanced screening process where physical and psychometric tests are conducted. ● The personnel are trained in armed and unarmed combat for 3 months, one who makes it through these 3 months are again put in a more intense training of 3 more months. The officers are trained in all kinds of weapons and explosives and taught how to neutralize them, basically these officers are the best of best ● The force is equipped with high tech gadgets and are specialised in all the fighting skills, be it martial arts sharp shooting and are vigilant and sharp as an eagle’s eye. Controversy on the bill The bill has been in controversy as the government was accused of targeting the Gandhi Family, and the housebreak which happened in the house of Priyanka Gandhi was proclaimed as an alleged house break done for some vindictive motive. To this Mr. Amit Shah retorted that, the security of the former PM and his family member is still intact it has just changed from SPG to Z+ security provided by the CRPF and it is very efficient in providing security, also the number of security measures and force has been kept intact along with Advanced Security Liaisons and a twenty four hour ambulance service[3] He said that the accusation has no base to it and the government has analysed, properly and subsequently made the decision, they have no intention of making any ameliorated or ostensible political vendetta. He was also very cunning enough to point out the number of times the Gandhi family has travelled without notifying the SPG. Critical Analyses of the Bill 1. In the house it was argued by Mr. Shah, that the resources are constrained and that the SPG will need to strain it’s resources to provide security to Former PM’s, but this year the budget of SPG has been increased to 592.55 crore from 540 crore. This is when the SPG is providing security to only PM Modi. 2. Also when the government says that z+ and SPG’s are of the same level security with the Z+ hailing from the same cadres , then the government could have improvised or appended the SPG number furthermore to cover the former PM’s and their family members. 3. The statements made in the house debate that SPG should not be taken as a status symbol seems indirectly pointed towards Gandhi family. 4. Another point made during the debate was that the government has in hand security of 130 cr Indian citizens as their responsibility, although it’s evident that this amendment and even the Act has nothing to do with the security of people, government’s concern for the PM is welcome and befitting , but what has it to do with the security of 130 crore Indians. 5. More prominent and speedy action was required in various other fields, the government amended and passed this Act within a month, which is quite a speedy work, but such speedy actions are not seen in other legislations and bills which need attention. Conclusion Opinions and anecdotes of the government which regards to the Amendment are still vehemently subjugated to critical review although in my opinion it is a very corrigible move, obviously the reversion of the Act has pointed out various haywire vexations amongst some of the ostensible people , but the decision has not much of an opposition from other parties and the public. The Raconteur might look subversive but, any ways it is an excellent point that the sumptuous security of the SPG should be provided only to the PM not to the former as it will definitely accumulate overtime and cause distress to the SPG. References: [1] Sec 4, The Special Protection Group (Amendment), Act, http://egazette.nic.in/WriteReadData/2019/214563.pdf. [2] Parliament Passes the Special Protection Group(Amendment) ,Act,2019.MANU/PIBU/1843/2019. [3] Supra 3,2. DISCLAIMER: Views and opinions as expressed in the Research Articles are solely of the author and any member of the core team of the website shall not be liable for the same.

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