Bill to amend SPG Act introduced

NEW DELHI, Nov 25:
Family members of a former Prime Minister 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.
As per the Special Protection Group (Amendment) Bill, which was introduced in the Lok Sabha today, 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.
This comes days after the Government withdrew the SPG security cover provided to members of the Gandhi family-Congress president Sonia Gandhi and her children Rahul and Priyanka.
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.
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 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.
“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. In recognition of this critical security imperative for the Prime Minister in office, a special enactment was made to constitute the Special Protection Group with the sole objective of providing proximate security to the Prime Minister and the members of his immediate family,” the bill said.
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 Special Protection Group Act, 1988 was enacted to provide for the constitution and regulation of the SPG as an armed force of the Union for providing proximate security to the Prime Minister and his immediate family members.
The Act was amended in 1991, 1994, 1999 and 2003 to extend SPG cover to former Prime Ministers and their immediate family members also, for different periods of time from the day the Prime Minister demitted office. (PTI)