Video Summary

[RSTV The Big Picture] Security: Status Symbol or Protection?

Union Home Minister recently said that security of Sonia Gandhi and her children Rahul and Priyanka has not been withdrawn but changed to 'Z-plus' with ambulance.
By IT's Video Summary Team
December 09, 2019


  • About SPG
  • How is the assessment made to provide SPG cover?
  • Is there any political motive behind the demand of SPG security?
  • Difference between SPG cover, Z+ security or Z category security
  • Does the SPG has enough resources to protect multiple VIPs?
  • Constitution, Framework and preparedness of SPG
  • Conclusion

[RSTV The Big Picture] Security: Status Symbol or Protection?

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The Ministry of Home Affairs replaced the Special Protection Group Security (SPG) cover given to Sonia Gandhi, her children and former PM Manmohan Singh by Z+ security of the Central Police Reserve Force (CPRF). The congress has demanded the restoration of SPG cover.

About SPG

  • The SPG was set up in 1985, just after the assassination of PM Indira Gandhi. The Birbal Nath Committee report led to the SPG Act, 1988.
  • It was meant primarily for the protection of the Prime Minister.
  • In 1991, after the assassination of former PM Rajiv Gandhi, the act was amended to bring-in former prime ministers and relatives of PM for at least 10 years who have high threat perception.
  • In 2003, the government again amended the SPG Act to bring the period of automatic protection down from 10 years to a period of 1 year and beyond one year based on the level of threat as decided by the government.

Assessment process of SPG security cover

  • All the threat inputs given by the Intelligence Bureau, Police Commissioner of the Delhi and all other forces are consolidated under the Home Secretary.
  • In Gayur Hasan Vs State of UP and others, the directives given by the Supreme Court states that “A speaking order has to be given with the cogent and logical reasons behind the assessment and behind the decision of whether to upgrade or scaled down the security level. The assessment cannot be knee-jerk or not on personal likes or dislikes. Therefore, a committee that decides the level of security has to be created”.

Is there any political motive behind the demand of SPG security?

  • The SPG cover has a particular protocol which makes a particular person very distinct from persons who are not getting the SPG protection.
  • The SPG protection is a very much a question of a status symbol because there is hardly a marginal difference between what the SPG can do in protection and what the Z+ security can do.
  • Just because the SPG is especially designed to protect only the Prime Minister, their functional capacity can be honed and confined to a specific task.

Difference between SPG cover, Z+ security or Z category security

  • The Indian security system provides protection to VIPs and VVIPs in various security cover range which are: X, Y, Z and Z+. X category security has only 2 personnel and Z+ category security has 55 personnel.
  • While SPG is one of the many agencies – such as the NSG (National Security Guard), CRPF (Central Reserve Police Force), Z+ security is the second highest level of security provided in India, with 55 personnel that includes 10 NSG Commandos and police.
  • There is minor difference in their weaponry and bulletproof jacketing between SPG and Z+ security cover. The equipment and training provided to both groups are almost same.
  • The same personnel who at one point of time may be in the CRPF or the NSG may be a part of the SPG and vice versa.

 Difference between SPG cover, Z+ security or Z category security

Does the SPG has enough resources to protect multiple VIPs?

  • In the beginning, SPG did not had, but as they were empowered and more posts were created, more advanced sophisticated weapons came. That is the reason why they should come back to their original function of protecting a single protectee and they should be confined to it.
  • Due to shortages in manpower, a lot of policemen were diverted to the VIP protection who were originally recruited as police personnel.
  • Hence, government should give less emphasis on VIP protection and move towards a more mature political system.

Constitution, Framework and preparedness of SPG

  • The SPG personnel are at par with the best in the world.
  • When the SPG was created, the model for its formation was picked up from the model of the security of USA president. The training programs were also devised from the FBI and from other parts of the world.
  • The weapons, the amours, the ammunitions and the interpersonal communication was of highest order.
  • The SPG has a distinct process, in comparison to any other force, known as AAS i.e. Advanced Security Laser. When the protectee is moving out, AAS is done with the host police force and the district magistrate for threat perception. On the basis of the AAS, security program is made out.
  • There is multiple layer of security that SPG provides. In case of an attack, the inner cordon manages to out of the scene with the protectee and the outer cordon take shot and gives protection fire.


The politician whether budding, existing or ex, has the desire about how to have maximum security not only as a status symbol but also as a means to show that the person has arrived. These frivolous allotments of security are heavy drain on the resources of the state. The security has to be realistic. It should be based on the need and actual requirements and not on whimsical and fancy imagination.


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