The Lok Sabha passed the Special Protection Group (Amendment) Bill, 2019, after negating all the proposed amendments today.
Initiating the debate on the Special Protection Group (Amendment) Bill, 2019 today in the Lok Sabha, Home Minister Amit Shah said that SPG shall provide proximate security to the Prime Minister and his immediate family members residing with him at his official residence.
The Bill says that family members of a former Prime Minister who reside with him at his allotted accommodation will get security cover of the SPG only for five years, from the date he/she ceases to hold the office of Prime Minister.
Amit Shah informed that based on the recommendations of the Birbal Nath committee report, SPG came into existence in 1985. From 1985 to 1988, SPG was governed by an Executive Order and only in 1988, the SPG Act came into existence to provide security to the Prime Minister and his/her family.
Amit Shah said that the SPG Act was enacted in 1988 to provide for the constitution and regulation of the SPG as an armed force to provide proximate security to the Prime Minister and his/her immediate family members. Amendments to the Act were effected in 1991, 1994, 1999 and 2003 and today a further amendment is being brought to revert back to the original spirit of the Act.
Dismissing the charge of vindictiveness for removal of SPG cover of Gandhi family, Amit Shah stated that such security cover reviews have happened in the past with respect to ex-prime ministers, including PV Narasimha Rao, IK Gujaral, Chandra Shekhar, HD Deve Gowda and Dr Manmohan Singh, but there was no such opposition ever when SPG cover was withdrawn. The Home Minister said that the Government is committed to secure each citizen of the country.
Talking about the rationale behind bringing the amendment, Amit Shah informed the House that in the Act, there is 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. This can also impact the effectiveness of SPG in providing adequate cover to the principle protectee, the Prime Minister in office.
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. The Bill says 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.