Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Wednesday began debate on the controversial the Special Protection Group (Amendment) Bill and said the law's original intent as it was enacted in 1988 only to protect the prime minister and former prime minister.
Special meant that it was only for the PM, but over a period of time, the original SPG protocol has changed. Through this bill, we are trying to bring it in its original shape, Amit Shah told Lok Sabha on Wednesday.
As per the Special Protection Group (Amendment) Bill, which was introduced in the Lok Sabha on Monday, proximate security will be given by the force only to the prime minister and members of his immediate family if they live with him at his official residence.
Family members of a former PM who don't reside with him at his official residence will not be guarded by SPG commandos anymore and those who reside with him at his allotted accommodation will get security cover of the elite force only for five years.
While introducing the SPG (Amendment) Bill, 2019, Union Minister of State for Home G Kishan Reddy said in the existing act there is no cut off period for providing SPG protection to former prime ministers or members of their immediate families.
In such a scenario, there can be a 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 bill says.
The proposed legislation says that therefore, it is considered essential to amend the act to focus on the core mandate, as the security of the prime minister, as head of the government, is of paramount importance for the government, governance and national security.
The proposed bill says that the SPG shall provide proximate security to the prime minister and members of his immediate family residing with him at his official residence and to any former prime minister and members of his immediate family as are residing with him at the residence allotted to him, for a period of five years from the date he ceases to hold the office of prime minister.
The bill makes it clear that when the proximate security is withdrawn from a former prime minister, such proximate security shall also stand withdrawn from members of his or her immediate family.
The government had erupted after the government withdrew the SPG security cover provided to members of the Gandhi family.
The decision to withdraw the SPG cover given to the family of former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi, who was assassinated by LTTE terrorists on May 21, 1991, was taken after a detailed security assessment early this month.
The Gandhis are now without SPG protection after 28 years. They were included in the VVIP security list following an amendment of the SPG Act in September 1991.