Parliament passes Special Protection Group (Amendment) Bill, 2019

Parliament on Tuesday passed the Special Protection Group (Amendment) Bill, 2019. Replying to the debate on the Bill in the house, Union Minister for Home Affairs Amit Shah said that as per the intent of the original law, SPG focusses on Prime Minister’s security, as the PM is constitutionally the Head of the Government. It looks after the Prime Minister’s personal security, health, communication and secures the PMO and Prime Minister’s residence. It must not be made a status symbol and its mandate must not be diluted in deploying the specialized force for the security of a particular family. Shah also stressed that the Government is responsible for the security of 130 crore Indian citizens, which includes the said family.

The Home Minister noted that there is a perception that the amendment in SPG Act is being brought only for the purpose to remove the SPG security cover for the Gandhi family. Opposed to that, the Gandhi family’s security level was not being removed but was changed from SPG to Z+ with ASL (Advance Security Liaison) and 24X7 Ambulance provision. This has been done on the basis of threat perception as per the original version of the law and the family’s security cover is at par with that of the HM, Defence Minister etc. He stressed that therefore, the there is no question of vendetta politics against one family and they have been assigned security personnel who have undergone SPG training at some point of time in their career.

Taking a dig at the opposition benches, Shah said that the person who would be at the greatest disadvantage because of the Amendment in the Act is the current Prime Minister, who would lose SPG cover five years after he demits office. He also remarked that the SPG security cover of several previous Prime Ministers had been removed in the past, but there were no protests previously.

Speaking on the security breach at Priyanka Gandhi’s residence, Shah said that the visiting persons were Congress party members and the security allowed them entry based on this specific information. Despite this, Government has ordered high level enquiry into this matter and suspended the concerned 3 security personnel.

The bill was earlier passed by Lok Sabha on November 27, 2019.