What is SPG Act? All about SPG Act 1988 and SPG (Amendment) Act 2019
SPG Act: On 5 January 2022, PM Modi's convoy was stranded for 20 minutes on a flyover due to a blockade by protesters near Ferozepur, following which he had to return from the poll-bound state without attending the rally.
Post this incident, the centre constituted a three-member committee to probe the alleged security breach and has so far summoned Punjab Police Chief S Chattopadhyaya and 13 other senior officials. The Centre is likely to use the Special Protection Group (SPG) Act against Punjab Police officers.
Furthermore, Punjab Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi has also constituted a high-level committee to probe the incident and is asked to submit the report within three days.
The security of the Prime Minister of India comes under the domain of the Special Protection Group or SPG. Let us take a look at the Special Protection Group (SPG) Act.
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What is SPG Act?
The Special Protection Group (SPG) Act provides proximate security to the Prime Minister of India, former Prime Ministers of India and members of their immediate families. It came into force on 2 June 1988.
Why the SPG Act was passed?
The SPG Act was passed by the Parliament post the assassination of former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and was extended to all former Prime Ministers and their immediate families after former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi was assassinated.
Who can decline the security provided by the SPG?
The security can be declined by the former Prime Minister or any member of the immediate family of the Prime Minister, provided that where the level of threat faced by any member of the immediate family of a former Prime Minister warrants proximate security or any other security, such security shall be provided to that member.
How are the members of the SPG selected?
Any member of any other armed force of the Union may be appointed to the SPG by the Centre either by general or special order. The provisions of this Act will be applicable to the person appointed.
What are the duties of SPG?
Each member of the Special Protection Group is liable to serve in any part of the world and is subject to the SPG Act, wherever he may be.
A member of the SPG can be at any time be employed or deployed in any manner which is consistent with the duties and responsibilities of the Group under this Act.
In addition to the above, each member of the SPG provided he is not on leave or under suspension, will always be on active duty.
Who controls SPG?
The general superintendence, direction and control of the Special Protection Group vests in, and exercised by the Central Government while the command and supervision of the SPG vests in the Director of the Group, appointed by the Centre. The SPG comes under the Ministry of Home Affairs.
Can an SPG member resign or withdraw from the post?
No member of the SPG can resign during the terms of his engagement or withdraw himself from the duties of his appointment, provided he has written permission of the prescribed authority.
The members of the SPG hold office during the pleasure of the President. The prescribed authority can terminate the appointment of any member of the Group in the public interest and it will not amount to his dismissal or removal.
Any member of the Group can appeal against his termination within 30 days after receiving the termination order before the Board constituted by the Centre. The decision of the Board will be final and cannot be questioned in any court of law or tribunal.
What restrictions are imposed on SPG members?
The SPG members cannot form or be part of any associations, be it political, religious, or recreational. They cannot even participate, address a meeting or take part in demonstrations.
They cannot communicate with the press or in any form involved in the publication of a book, letter or other documents except for literary, artistic or scientific publication.
When and why was the SPG Act amended?
The SPG Act was amended in 2019 to reduce SPG cover to only the Prime Minister and members of his immediate family residing with him at his official residence.
The 2019 amendment further reduce the time period of SPG cover to the former Prime Ministers and their immediate family to five years after they leave the office, provided that the immediate family members resided at the allotted residence with the former Prime Minister.
The Special Protection Group (Amendment) Act, 2019 states that when the proximate security is withdrawn from a former Prime Minister, such proximate security will also stand withdrawn from members of his immediate family.
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