From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : Various security agencies mentioned
Mains level : Not Much
- The Central government has withdrawn Special Protection Group (SPG) security cover for a former PM.
- The former PM will now be given Z-plus cover by the Central Armed Police Forces (CAPF).
SPG and SPG Act
- After Indira Gandhi was assassinated by her own security guards in 1984, the Rajiv Gandhi government decided to create a special cadre of security personnel for the PM.
- In March 1985, following the recommendations of a committee set up by the Home Ministry, a special unit was created for this purpose under the Cabinet Secretariat.
- This unit, initially called the Special Protection Unit, was renamed as Special Protection Group in April 1985.
- Subsequently, the Parliament passed The Special Protection Group (SPG) Act, which was notified in June 1988 “to provide for the constitution and regulation of an armed force of the Union for providing proximate security to the Prime Minister of India and for matters connected therewith”.
Security under the SPG Act
- The SPG Act defined “proximate security” as “protection provided from close quarters, during journey by road, rail, aircraft, watercraft or on foot or any other means of transport” and to “include the places of functions, engagements, residence or halt”.
- The SPG protective cover goes with the person of the protectee as the shadow would a man. It is for the SPG to devise how to render meaningful protection to the protectee.
- SPG personnel can be seen around the Prime Minister of India at all times.
Who are covered?
- SPG protection was extended, apart from the PM, to “former PMs of India and members of their immediate families” through an amendment in the Act in the aftermath of the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi in May 1991.
- Rajiv Gandhi had lost SPG cover after being defeated in the Lok Sabha elections of 1989.
- The Act was subsequently amended again in 1994 and 1999.
Categories of security
- Besides the SPG, VIPs in India are protected by other security forces as well.
- The levels of security cover are determined by the threat perception around the individual.
- The highest level of security cover is the Z-plus category, followed by Z, Y, and X categories.
- The higher the level of cover, the larger the number of personnel protecting the individual.
- Roughly 24-36 personnel with automatic weapons are deployed for Z-plus category protectees and 16-20 personnel guard Z-category protectees.
- The elite ‘Black Cat’ commandos of the NSG are deployed to protect VIPs for whom the threat perception is the highest.