The Article ‘Special Protection Group (SPG) Act: An Overview‘ is a scrupulous strive to make the readers well-acquainted with the agendas behind the upraise of the Special Protection Group. The Special Protect Group is endowed with the duty of providing proximate security to the Prime Minister, former Prime Ministers, and their immediate family members. For the first time… Read More »

The Article ‘Special Protection Group (SPG) Act: An Overview‘ is a scrupulous strive to make the readers well-acquainted with the agendas behind the upraise of the Special Protection Group. The Special Protect Group is endowed with the duty of providing proximate security to the Prime Minister, former Prime Ministers, and their immediate family members. For the first time in India, the Special Protection Group (SPG) Act came into being in 1988.

The Article covers the historical background behind the evolution of the Special Protection Group Act. The Special Protection Group (Amendment) Bill 2019 amended the Special Protection Group, Act 1988. The new step brought an important change i.e. Special Protection Group (SPG) will provide security to the Prime Minister and members of his immediate family residing with him at his official residence.

A Brief Introduction: Special Protection Group (SPG)

The Special Protection Group (SPG) is a government organization in India whose sole responsibility is to safeguard the Prime Minister. In 1988, the Indian Parliament enacted a bill making this possible. The SPG always protects the Prime Minister and his immediate family when they reside in the official residence of the Prime Minister.

In contrast, family members are free to decide whether or not they choose to be insured. No matter where they lived in India, SPG used to safeguard the Prime Minister’s family, including his “parents, wife, and children.” This was altered by the Special Protection Group (Amendment) Act of 2019. India’s prime minister, Narendra Modi, is the sole person now protected by the SPG.

History

Prior to 1981, a Deputy Commissioner of Police from the Special Protection District of the Delhi Police was responsible for the protection of the Prime Minister at their official residence. (DCP). This structure was inspired by the Metropolitan Police Service of London, which guards the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. The Intelligence Bureau (IB) established a Special Task Force (STF) in October 1981 to ensure the safety and security of the Prime Minister whenever he or she goes into or out of New Delhi.

Two Delhi police officers assassinated Indira Gandhi in 1984. This prompted a Ministry of the Interior committee to investigate her death. After what transpired, it was determined that the STF would be responsible for the Prime Minister’s protection, providing him with constant security. With a near-term objective in mind, these decisions were made.

On February 18, 1985, the Ministry of Home Affairs selected Birbal Nath to head a committee that would investigate the situation and makes recommendations on how to ensure the safety of the prime minister. According to the Committee’s recommendation, the Special Protection Unit should be established in March 1985 in order to safeguard the Prime Minister (SPU). The President of India created 819 seats for the Cabinet Secretariat unit on March 30, 1985. The Special Protection Group was renamed in honour of its Director, an Inspector-General in the Indian police.

Role of the Government

The Intelligence Bureau and the State Police collaborated to organize, collect, and share information regarding the Prime Minister’s nationwide tour. Therefore, the SPG and State Police would offer two levels of physical protection for the Prime Minister. From April 1985 to June 1988, when it was disbanded, the SPG operated illegally. In the same year, the administration of Rajiv Gandhi enacted the Special Protection Group Act, which formalized the edict.

At the time, the Act solely applied to the Prime Minister and his family. In 1989, when Rajiv Gandhi resigned as Prime Minister, the SPG was no longer able to defend him. The fact that his government was sending troops to fight in the civil war of Srilanka put his life into considerable jeopardy, but he did it nevertheless.

Gandhi was assassinated by a suicide bomber from the Sri Lankan terrorist organization Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam in May 1991. The bomber was in Tamil Nadu for a political event. After his death, the SPG Act was amended in his honour. Now, Prime Ministers and their closest families enjoy 10-year SPG protection.

Before the conclusion of this period, the IB would assess the existing threat to a protected person and determine if an extension was necessary (which would last five years). The SPG safeguarded Sonia Gandhi’s children Rahul, Priyanka, and Priyanka for 28 years since they were engaged in the Indian National Congress (until 2019).

The Indian Parliament enacted the Special Security Group (Amendment) Act on November 27, 2019, which promotes SPG protection for the Prime Minister and his immediate family members who dwell in his official residence. Former Prime Ministers must pass a security check conducted by the Intelligence Bureau before they can be protected for up to five years after leaving office.

The Indian National Congress asserts that the Gandhi family would be more likely to be attacked without SPG protection. Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Heeraben Modi, and Jashodaben Modi, the mother and estranged wife of the current Prime Minister Narendra Modi, lost their SPG security after the bill was passed. The Ministry of Homeland Security reduced the protection level from Z+ to Y. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who resides alone in his official residence, is one of the SPG’s “legal protectors.”

About SPG Act

The Special Protection Group (SPG) is responsible for the protection of the Prime Minister. The SPG Act describes the SPG as a “military force.” The Cabinet Secretariat is governed and monitored by the SPG Act, which was enacted in 1988. After the death of former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, a statute was enacted to cover the deaths of Rajiv Gandhi and their close relatives. The Act has provisions for “proximate security” for the present prime minister of India and his predecessors.

NIST defines “proximate security” as the protection provided from close quarters during a journey by road, rail, aircraft, watercraft, or on foot or any other mode of transport and shall include places of functions, engagements, residence, or halt and shall include ring round teams, isolation cordons, the sterile zone around, and access control to the person or members of his immediate family, and shall include ring round teams, isolation cordons, the sterile zone around, and access.

The Central Government will be responsible for directing, supervising, and controlling the entire group. The Central Government will select the Group’s Director. This individual will be responsible for leading and monitoring the organization. The SPG is in charge of the Advanced Security Liaison (ASL) and is responsible for tracking and documenting the itinerary of the Prime Minister.

When the PM travels, the SPG is responsible for close protection, and the state police are responsible for perimeter protection. The 2019 modifications to the SPG Act do not apply to Prime Minister Modi and his immediate family who reside in his official residence. Former prime ministers and their families will now be eligible for SPG coverage for only five years after leaving office if they and their immediate family members continue to reside in the former prime minister’s designated residence.

The Special Protection Group (Amendment) Bill of 2019

The Special Protection Group (Amendment) Bill, 2019 was introduced in Lok Sabha by the Minister of Home Affairs Amit Shah on November 25, 2019. The bill amends the Special Protections Group Act of 1988. The Act established the Special Protection Group (SPG) to safeguard the Prime Minister, former Prime Ministers, and their immediate families. The SPG is administered by the Government.

The Act stipulates that the SPG shall provide protection for the Prime Minister and his family. Former prime ministers and their families can anticipate receiving the same benefits one year after leaving office. After that, the federal government provides SPG security based on a threat assessment. The threat must originate from the military or a terrorist organization and be real and persistent.

As stated in the Bill, the SPG would guard the Prime Minister and his immediate family who reside in the official residence. Additionally, any former prime ministers and their immediate families who lived in the mansion he was granted would be protected. This protection will endure for five years after he ceases to be Prime Minister.

The Act stipulates that the former Prime Minister’s immediate family would no longer get SPG protection unless the threat situation warrants it. If a former Prime Minister’s SPG security is revoked, so is his immediate family’s protection. This section of the Bill has been eliminated.


References

[1] SPG ACT: Special Protection Group Act, Available Here

[2] Arfa Javaid, What is SPG Act? All about SPG Act 1988 and SPG (Amendment) Act 2019, Available Here

[3] Special Protection Group (Amendment) Act, 2019, Available Here

[4] The Special Protection Act, Available Here


Updated On 2022-06-04T06:00:27+05:30
Vartika Kulshrestha

Vartika Kulshrestha

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