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Prelims Capsule

Defence & Security

SPG and PM’s security


  • GS 3 || Security || Tackling Security Threats || Intelligence Agencies

Why in news?

Prime Minister Narendra Modi had to cancel his event in poll-bound Punjab following a ‘security breach’. As per the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), PM Modi was stuck on a flyover for 15-20 minutes owing to a protest by farmers.

About SPG:

  • The Special Protection Group (SPG) is an Indian government unit whose only mission is to defend India’s Prime Minister. It was established in 1988 by an Act of the Indian Parliament.
  • The Prime Minister, as well as the Prime Minister’s immediate family members residing with them at their official house, are protected by the SPG at all times, whether in India and overseas. Family members, on the other hand, may refuse security.

When was SPG raised? What is its history?

  • The SPG was founded in 1985, following the assassination of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi in 1984.
  • When V P Singh came to power in 1989, his administration revoked SPG protections granted to Rajiv Gandhi’s
  • However, after Rajiv’s assassination in 1991, the SPG Act was revised to provide at least ten years of security to all former prime ministers and their families.
  • In 2003, the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government amended the SPG Act again, reducing the automatic protection period from ten years to “a period of one year, beginning on the date on which the former Prime Minister ceased to hold office” and continuing beyond one year based on the government’s assessment of the level of threat.
  • Former Prime Ministers H D Deve Gowda, I K Gujaral, and P V Narasimha Rao had their SPG coverage revoked under the Vajpayee regime.

SPG and Protection:

  • The SPG is a 3,000-strong elite unit created especially to defend the country’s Prime Minister, former Prime Ministers, and their immediate families. PM Modi will be the only one protected by the SPG if the Gandhis lose their cover.
  • To achieve failsafe security, the SPG is highly trained in physical efficiency, marksmanship, fighting, and proximal protection techniques, and is assisted by all central and state authorities.
  • The SPG has special operations commandos who carry ultra-modern assault rifles and wear dark-visor sunglasses with inbuilt communication earpieces, bulletproof vests, gloves, and elbow/knee pads.
  • SPG Special Agents assigned to the PM security detail wear black, Western-style formal business suits, sunglasses, and carry a two-way encrypted communication earpiece and concealed handguns.

What are the different degrees of security?

  • Security coverings are divided into six categories: X, Y, Y plus, Z, Z plus, and SPG.
  • While SPG is solely for the Prime Minister and his immediate family, other categories can be given to anyone who the Centre or state governments have information on who is facing a threat.
  • X category: On average, just one gunman protects the individual in this category.
  • Y category: It has one gunman for mobile security and one for static security (plus four on rotation). Y plus employs two security officers on a rotating basis and one (plus four on a rotating basis) for residence security.
  • Z category:There are six shooters for mobile security and two (plus eight) for residence security in the Z category; in the Z plus category, there are ten security people for mobile security and two (plus eight) for house security.
  • Within these levels, there are a variety of covers to choose from.

How are security levels decided?

  • After weighing the inputs from all intelligence agencies, including the Intelligence Bureau (IB) and the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW), the Union Home Ministry makes this decision.
  • However, the question of security cover is vulnerable to manipulation because none of the intelligence services are answerable to any external statutory agency, with the exception of internal oversight by the Ministries of Home and Foreign Affairs.

Special Protections Group Act, 1988: Salient Features

  • SPG was founded in 1985 in response to the recommendations of the BirbalNath committee report. SPG was administered by an Executive Order from 1985 to 1988, and it was only in 1988 that the SPG Act was enacted.
  • The Special Protection Group (SPG) is responsible for providing protection to the Prime Minister and his immediate family members under the Act.
  • Former Prime Ministers and their immediate families are likewise guaranteed security for a year after they leave office. SPG security is provided after this period dependent on the level of threat determined by the federal government.
  • The threat must come from a military or terrorist organisation, and it must be serious and ongoing nature.
  • If a former Prime Minister’s SPG security is revoked, it will be revoked for his immediate family members as well, unless the amount of threat faced by the direct family member warrants such security.

Special Protection Group (Amendment) Bill, 2019: Salient Features

  • The SPG will provide protection to the Prime Minister and members of his immediate family residing with him at his official house, according to the Bill.
  • It will also provide security for any past Prime Ministers and their immediate families who live with him at the residence assigned to him.
  • This security will be provided for a period of five years after he no longer holds the position of Prime Minister.
  • If a former Prime Minister’s SPG security is revoked, it will be revoked for his immediate family as well.

Under the new arrangements, on domestic visits, the Intelligence Bureau and concerned State Police were responsible for coordination, collection and dissemination of intelligence affecting the Prime Minister’s security. State Police and the SPG would then provide physical security arrangements for the Prime Minister in two-layers. The SPG operated under the authority of its constituting executive order for three years without legislation, from April 1985 to June 1988. That year, the Rajiv Gandhi Government passed the Special Protection Group Act to codify the order’s provisions.

Mains oriented question:

How is the Prime Minister’s security planned? What is role of SPG in PM security? (150 words)