The SPG will now protect the prime minister and members of his immediate family residing with him at his official residence.
New Delhi: The Lok Sabha on Wednesday passed a bill to amend the Special Protection Group (SPG) Act.
The amendment says the SPG will now protect only the Prime Minister and members of his immediate family residing with him at his official residence.
The bill was passed amid a walkout by the Congress. Several opposition members also wanted changes in the bill which were defeated by voice votes.
It will also provide security to former prime ministers and their immediate family members staying with them at the residence allotted for a period of five years from the date on which they cease to hold the office.
The BJP-led central government recently removed the elite cover given to the Gandhi family and replaced it with Z+ security, which created a controversy and saw protests by Congress workers.
In a debate in the Lok Sabha, Union Home Minister Amit Shah said the elite protection unit was raised for securing only the prime minister and amendments brought in by the government will restore the original intent of the Act. He accused the previous governments of diluting the law governing the SPG.
Shah said the term ‘Special’ indicates its purpose and noted that many countries have such elite and compact cover exclusively for their respective head of state.
In his reply, Shah also said when the SPG security cover was withdrawn from former prime ministers Chandra Shekhar, IK Gujral and Manmohan Singh, but no one uttered a word.
The home minister said security is given to anyone on the basis of threat perception and there is no politics involved in it.
Shah said the director of the Intelligence Bureau personally went to meet former prime minister Manmohan Singh and conveyed to him about withdrawing SPG cover and assured him that after threat assessment, there was no need for the SPG.
“Manmohan Singh Ji himself asked Director IB to do what he feels is right. There’s no point of not responding to his letter,” he said
A Raja (DMK) claimed the amendment was being undertaken for political reasons. Security should be based on threat perception, he said, adding political leaders have been assassinated for political reasons. He also asked Shah to revisit the SPG (Amendment) Bill.
Sudip Bandyopadhyay (Trinamool Congress) said that the government should review the CRPF security being provided to various persons including political leaders.
He further said that while West Bengal Governor has CRPF security, the Chief Minister goes around like a common citizen.