Special Protection Group

SPG is a federal agency tasked with the proximate protection of the Prime Minister of India, former Prime Ministers, and his/her immediate family members. It draws its power and authority from the Special Protection Group Act 1988.

Currently, only Prime Minister Narendra Modi is protected by SPG.

Details about SPG

  • The motto of the SPG is “Bravery, Dedication, Security”.
  • It was created on the recommendation of the Birbal Nath Committee, 1985.
  • SPG worked for 3 years without any legislation from the year 1985 to 1988, thereafter the Rajiv Gandhi government passed a law to give a rigid statutory shape to this agency.
  • SPG protects the Prime Minister as well as the former Prime Ministers and his/her immediate family members who reside with him/her at the official residence only.
  • SPG provides protection to the protectee in both India and abroad.
  • Immediate family members of the former Prime Minister have the choice of declining the protection received by SPG.
  • The protection received by the former Prime Ministers and their family members residing at the official residence is only up to 5 years from the date he/she ceases to hold the office.
  • An officer from the Indian Police Service with a rank not lower than the Inspector General of Police leads the Special Protection Group.
  • Unlike other forces, SPG does not participate in the Republic Day Parade.
  • SPG coordinates with various other security agencies like Intelligence Bureau and Research & Analysis Wing along with all the States/Union Territories Police to provide a fail-proof and zero-error proximate security to the protectee at all times.
  • SPG does not recruit its employees directly but rather draws its personnel from the Railway Protection Force (RPF) and various Central Armed Police Force (CAPFs) such as Central Armed Police Force (CISF), Border Security Force (BSF), Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB), Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), Indo Tibetan Border Police (ITBP), National Security Guard (NSG), and Assam Rifles (AR).
    • Employees from the above forces can apply for deputation with the SPG which usually lasts for 5 years but can be further extended too by the director.
  • By law, the people protected by SPG are exempted from the personal security screenings at all the airports within Indian territory. At the airports which are operated by the Airport Authority of India, the protectees can also choose to access the VIP lounges.
  • The protectees of the SPG are also exempted from the security screenings at various government buildings including the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO).
  • SPG and its employees even after their retirement are excluded from the purview of the Right to Information Act (RTI) 2005.

Read about the Internal Security Forces of India in the linked article.

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Background of the Special Protection Group (SPG) Act, 1988

Below is the timeline behind the enactment of the SPG Act 1988:

Prior to 1981

From the time of independence till the year 1981, the Special Security District of the Delhi Police was responsible for providing security to the Prime Minister.

1981 – 1984

The Intelligence Bureau (IB) created a Special Task Force, entrusted with the responsibility to provide road escorts and transportation security to the PM while he is travelling in and out of New Delhi.

It is the year 1984 when the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi was assassinated by two of her bodyguards from the Delhi Police, which resulted in further changes in the Security arrangement of the PM.

1984 -1985

A temporary short time measure was adopted and the responsibility of the PM’s protection was given to an exclusive unit under the direct control of the STF.

The Birbal Nath Committee was set up in 1985 which submitted its report the same year recommending the creation of a Special Protection Unit (SPU) as an independent agency for the sole purpose of prime ministerial protection.

1985 -1988

An executive order was passed by the then President of India in the year 1985 for the creation of the unit under the Cabinet Secretariat, which was renamed to Special Protection Group.

Amendments were made to the “Blue Book”, an existing manual for PM’s protection, to include new proximate protection protocols.

In the year 1988, a law was passed giving statutory status to the SPG by the Special Protection Group Act.

Year 1991

After Rajiv Gandhi’s assassination, it was felt necessary to give SPG protection to former Prime Ministers as well.

The SPG act was amended by the Congress party in the year 1991 to include protection for the former prime ministers and their immediate family members for a period of 10 years from the day they cease to hold office. Before the protection is withdrawn a review is done by the Intelligence Bureau to assess the current security threats to the protectees and if required the protection can be extended by 5 more years for an infinite number of times.

Year 2019

The SPG Act was amended this year to remove the protection the PM will get after he/she ceases to hold the office by default. Instead, a new provision was added that if the Intelligence Bureau finds any threat to the former PM, he or she with their immediate family members can get SPG protection for 5 more years.

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