After Downgrading Security Cover Of Gandhi Family, Government To Table SPG Amendment Bill In Lok Sabha Next Week
After Downgrading Security Cover Of Gandhi Family, Government To Table SPG Amendment Bill In Lok Sabha Next WeekCongress president Sonia Gandhi with Rahul Gandhi (Representative Image) (Sonu Mehta/Hindustan Times via GettyImages) 

A bill to amend the Special Protection Group (SPG) Act and two bills to replace ordinances are on the government's agenda for the Lok Sabha in the next week of the ongoing winter session.

This was stated by Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Arjun Ram Meghwal on Friday (22 November) after the Zero Hour.

Making a statement regarding government business for the week commencing on 25 November, Meghwal said International Financial Services Centres Authority Bill, Recycling of Ships Bill and National Capital Territory of Delhi (Recognition of Property Rights of Residents in Unauthorised Colonies) Bill are on the agenda of the House.

The minister said other bills in the government business include Industrial Relations Code Bill and SPG (Amendment) Act Bill, 2019.

The SPG Bill is important in the wake of recent developments which saw the Centre removing the SPG cover of the Gandhi family -- including Sonia Gandhi and her son Rahul and daughter Priyanka Gandhi Vadra -- as well as former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, after a security review.

While Manmohan Singh has been accorded Z plus security cover being provided by the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), the security of the Gandhi family under the same grade will be provided by the force very soon as per the government order, a move which was widely criticised by other Congress leaders.

The SPG security of the Gandhis was removed in the beginning of this month while Manmohan Singh and his wife Gursharan Kaur's protection was withdrawn in August.

The Special Protection Group (Amendment) Bill, 2019 seeks amendment to the Special Protection Group Act, 1988 which provides for the constitution and regulation of an armed force of the Union for providing "proximate security" to the Prime Minister and the former Prime Ministers of India and members of their immediate families and for matters connected therewith.

"Proximate security" means protection provided from close quarters, during the journey by road, rail, aircraft, watercraft or on foot or any other means of transport and shall include the places of functions, engagements, residence or halt and shall comprise ring round teams, isolation cordons, the sterile zone around, and the rostrum and access control to the person or members of his immediate family.

This Act was earlier amended in 1991, 1994 and 1999.

In the wake of the latest decision, the SPG protection -- top security cover -- is now being given only to the Prime Minister.

The SPG was set up in 1985 after the assassination of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi on 31 October 1984.

Parliament passed the SPG Act in 1988, dedicating the group to protecting the Prime Minister. At the time, the Act did not include former Prime Ministers.

When V P Singh came to power in 1989, his government withdrew SPG protection given to his predecessor Rajiv Gandhi. In 2003, the Vajpayee government again amended the SPG Act to bring the period of automatic protection down from 10 years to "a period of one year from the date on which the former prime minister ceased to hold office" and beyond one year based on the level of threat as decided by the government.

(This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text. Only the headline has been changed.)

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