Lok Sabha passes Special Protection Group (Amendment) Bill, 2019 amid opposition protest

Publish: 9:49 PM, November 28, 2019 | Update: 9:49:PM, November 28, 2019

NEW DELHI, – The Indian parliament (Lok Sabha) has passed the Special Protection Group (Amendment) Bill, 2019 on Wednesday amid opposition Congress lawmaker’s protest.

The Congress MPs staged a walkout from the House demanding that the SPG cover should be provided to former prime ministers and their family members for the rest of their lives and not just five years.

Following the amendment, prime minister and members of his immediate family residing with him at his official residence will get the SPG coverage.

However, former prime ministers and their immediate family members staying with them at the residence will get the SPG security coverage only for five years from the date on which they cease to hold the office.

Initiating the debate on the bill, Union Home Minister Amit Shah told the House that ‘the change of the security cover has been done only on the basis
of yearly security threat perception review by the government’.

“There is a perception in the country that the amendment in SPG Act is only for the purpose to remove the SPG security cover for the Gandhi
family…Such a security review has been a part of the original act,” he said.

Shah said that the security cover of the Gandhi family has not been reduced or taken away, rather it has just been changed from SPG cover to Z
Plus security cover by the CRPF, along with ASL and ambulance, across the country.

“The level of the security cover has been maintained and not even one security personnel has been reduced. The SPG security cover is being formed
by the same security personnel who comprise of the Z plus security cover,” he added.

Refuting any charges of the move being a “political vendetta”, Shah said, “The BJP does not carry out any action with a vindictive approach. It was the
Congress which took many such decisions in the past”.

Meanwhile, Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury accused the ruling BJP at the Centre of “political vendetta” saying that BJP has brought the
amendment targeting a family that has sacrificed two lives for the nation.

Dismissing the charge of “vindictiveness” for removal of SPG cover of Gandhi family, Amit Shah stated that such security cover reviews have
happened in the past with respect to former prime ministers including P.V. Narasimha Rao, I.K. Gujaral, Chandra Shekhar, H.D. Deve Gowda and Dr.
Manmohan Singh.

Meanwhile, Trinamool Congress’s Sudip Bandyopadhyay said that the government should review the CRPF security being provided to various persons
including political leaders.

YSRCP’s K G Madhav and JD(U)’s Rajiv Ranjan Singh said that security should not be linked to social status but must be based on threat perception.

P R Natarajan of CPI-M said that law making should be undertaken to settle personal vendetta and urged the home minister to withdraw the bill. Besides, DMK’s A Raja claimed the amendment was being undertaken for political reasons.