The amended SPG Bill: All you need to know

NEW DELHI: The SPG (Amendment) Bill that seeks to curtail the number of people to be provided cover by the elite Special Protection Group has been passed by Parliament.
Rajya Sabha passed the bill on Tuesday amid walk out by several parties including the Congress. The Bill was passed by Lok Sabha on November 27 with a voice vote.
The Congress, which has opposed the changes in the SPG Bill, cited an alleged security breach at the residence of their leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, when seven unknown persons in a car drove up to the porch of the Congress leader’s Lodhi Estate home, got off and walked up to her to ask for photographs.
Here is what the proposed bill is all about and the controversy surrounding it:
The SPG (Amendment) Bill says that Special Protection Group will provide security to the Prime Minister and members of his immediate family residing with him at his official residence.
The bill also provides that SPG will give security to former Prime Minister and his immediate family members residing with him at the residence allotted to him for five years from the date he ceases to hold the office.
What were the provisions of the original Bill:
The Special Protection Group Act was enacted in 1988 to provide for the constitution and regulation of the SPG as an armed force of the Union for providing proximate security to the Prime Minister and his immediate family members.
Previous amendments to the Bill:
The Act was amended in 1991, 1994, 1999 and 2003 to extend SPG cover to former prime ministers and their immediate family members also, for different periods of time from the day the Prime Minister demitted office.
It was last amended in 2003 to extend the SPG cover to former Prime Ministers and their immediate family members for one year from demitting of office of prime minister and thereafter based on the level of threat periodically assessed by security agencies.
Why is the Congress opposing the changes to the SPG Bill:
The Centre’s move has been strongly opposed by the Congress which claims that the government is targeting the Gandhi family.
The Centre last month replaced the SPG (Special Protection Group) cover of the family of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, assassinated by LTTE terrorists on May 21, 1991, with ‘Z-plus’ security provided by the Central Reserve Police Force.
What is the government’s response to Congress’s charges:
Union home minister Amit Shah denied any vindictive action in the change of security of the Gandhis and said the security of Congress president Sonia Gandhi and her children Rahul and Priyanka have not been withdrawn but changed to ‘Z-plus’ with ambulance.
Government says Gandhis have travelled without SPG several times:
Amit Shah said after 2015, Rahul Gandhi has travelled 1,892 times in India and 247 times abroad without informing the SPG.
Govt said Sonia Gandhi had travelled 50 times in Delhi, 13 times in various parts of India and 29 times abroad without informing the SPG.
Priyanka Gandhi had travelled 339 times in Delhi without taking the SPG cover, 64 times in different parts of the country and 94 times abroad, Amit Shah said.

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Security breach at Priyanka home: Probe ordered

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