A spokesperson for the federal Home Ministry said that Dr Manmohan Singh will, however, continue to get commando security, as provided in Z+ category, which is a level below the elite SPG cover.
Formed in 1988 after the assassination of then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, the Special Protection Group is an “armed force of the Union which provides proximate security to the Prime Minister of India and former Prime Minister of India and members of their immediate families.”
The legislation under which the SPG was set up allows for security cover for a “period of ten years from the date on which the former Prime Minster ceased to hold office”. Dr Singh demitted office on 25th May 2014, and according to the legislation, he is entitled to SPG security cover until 2024, unless he voluntarily gives it up. His daughters had given up the facility immediately after Dr Singh’s term was over in 2014. The legislation also provides for a review of the “level of threat periodically,” every year.
The opposition Congress Party has termed the decision of the government “unfortunate”. According to Congress sources, the government headed by Dr Manmohan Singh had also reviewed the threat perception of former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, but he continued with his SPG cover till death a year ago, reports India Today.
The spokesperson, however, has not confirmed if the decision to downgrade the security cover was conveyed to the former Prime Minister.