On 25 November (today), Union Home Minister Amit Shah introduced the Special Protection Group (Amendment) Bill, 2019, in the Lok Sabha. The bill has been brought for amendment in the SPG Act, 1988. The law prescribes SPG protection as a rule to the prime minister, former prime ministers and their very close family members.
Old SPG law
The old law states that if this security is withdrawn from a former prime minister, the SPG will not remain with the family members either, provided that the family members do not face the risk of the level for which SPG security is required.
Proposed change in SPG law
Limited security for family
Under this law, the SPG provides protection to the prime minister and his very close family members. When the prime minister quits, his very close family members get the cover for just one year from the day he leaves his post. After one year of his removal from the post, this level of security is given to him alone, depending on the extent of the threat perception.
The Union government decides the level of security needed by the protected. The government takes this decision on two parameters: first, the subject faces a risk to his life from a military or terrorist organisation and, second, the threat is of a very serious and persistent nature.
5-year term for family
The amendment bill states that SPG security will be given to prime ministers and their family members who live in the PM’s residence with him/her.
The bill proposes further that former Prime Ministers and his/her family members living with him/her in the government accommodation allotted to them will continue to receive this kind of protection for five years from the day the subject leaves the prime minister’s post.
Now, this condition has been lifted. After the withdrawal of SPG security from former prime ministers, the withdrawal of this protection from their family members would be mandatory.
Union Home Minister Amit Shah said that under the amendment he has brought, SPG protection will be only for the prime minister and those living in his residence with him and former prime ministers and their families living in government-allotted houses will get this protection for a period of 5 years.
During his presentation in the Rajya Sabha, some Congress MPs raised the issue of downgrading of protection to the Nehru-Gandhi family and accused the government of making a “vindictive effort” to harass their first family. Shah responded, saying, “‘Vindictive effort’ is not the culture of my party. Congress party on several occasions hurt the country by its ‘vindictive efforts’.”