The "Blue Book" & Indian Prime Minister's Security Protocol

By Anupam Kawde|Updated : January 7th, 2022

Ministry of Home Affairs has sought a report from the Punjab government on what it called “a major lapse in the security of the PM” as the Prime Minister’s cavalcade stranded on a flyover in Punjab’s Ferozepur district for over 15 minutes due to a protest by farmers on Wednesday (January 5).

As this incident is very serious and reprehensible in nature, many questions have been arising due to this security lapse. What goes into the security planning ahead of a PM’s visit? Which agencies are involved, and what happens if there is a change of plan? and many more......

The Agency in Charge of PM's Security: The SPG

  • Planning of the PM’s security during any visit is an elaborate exercise that involves both central agencies and state police forces. Broad guidelines are laid down in what is called the SPG’s ‘Blue Book’.
  • The Prime Minister's safety and security is the responsibility of the Special Protection Group (SPG). The SPG protects the Prime Minister and his immediate family members who live with them at their official house at all times, whether in India and overseas.
  • The elite commando unit is also in charge of the Prime Minister's immediate security. This signifies that SPG soldiers are cordoning off the immediate area around the PM.
  • Three days before any planned visit, the Special Protection Group (SPG), which is responsible for the PM’s security, holds a mandatory Advance Security Liaison (ASL) with everyone involved in securing the event, including SPG officials, Intelligence Bureau (IB) officials in the state concerned, state police officials, and the district magistrate concerned.
  • The SPG is also responsible for the ASL, or Advanced Security Liaison. This means that personnel from the central agencies are recording and monitoring every minute of the Prime Minister's schedule. The local police maintain this minute-by-minute programme during the PM's visit to a state, but it is overseen by SPG officials.
  • Sanitising the venue and the PM's route are also part of ASL. The Special Protection Group is mandated to carry out anti-sabotage checks and frisking of anyone who may approach the Prime Minister.

What is SPG?

  • An Act of the Indian Parliament established the agency in 1988. The law was revised in 2019, and SPG protection is now solely guaranteed to the Prime Minister of India.
    The SPG is based in Dwarka, southwest Delhi, and draws personnel from the Central Armed Police Forces (such as the Border Security Force, Central Reserve Police Force, Central Industrial Security Force, and the Indo-Tibetan Border Police) as well as the Railway Protection Force Service.
  • They're all volunteers – the best of the best who passed a three-tiered screening process. They are usually seen around the prime minister, dressed in black Western-style formal business suits, sunglasses, and carrying a two-way encrypted communication earpiece as well as concealed weapons.

PM Modi security breach: Supreme Court Hearing

  • The Supreme Court hearing a petition seeking a thorough investigation into the security lapse during Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit to Punjab on Wednesday. The plea, filed by the NGO Lawyers Voice, has sought action against those responsible for the security lapse and appropriate directions to the Punjab government to prevent the recurrence of such an incident in the future. On Wednesday, PM Modi's cavalcade was stuck on a flyover in Punjab for nearly 20 minutes due to farmers blocking the flyover. Private cars were also seen approaching the cavalcade, which was a major security lapse.

Duty of Centre, state to aid security of SPG member, says Adv Maninder Singh

  • Senior advocate Maninder Singh, appearing for NGO Lawyers Voice that filed the petition, tells the Supreme Court bench, "This is not a law and order issue but it falls under the Special Protection Group Act. It's just now about law and order in the state. 
  • Maninder Singh says that it is the duty of the Centre and state or the UT and other local authorities to act in aid of the director of any member of the SPG.

This is the highest breach, this cannot happen: Adv Maninder Singh

  • State govt cannot launch probe in security breach case: Adv Maninder Singh
  • Senior Advocate Maninder Singh, appearing for petitioners, argues that the probe cannot be done by the state government, here the Punjab government, in the security breach case.
  • Petitioner urges Supreme Court to monitor probe into PM's security breach

Local police was having tea with the protesters: Solicitor General tells SC

  • Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the Centre, says, "I'm grateful that this court has taken cognisance of a rarest of rare issue. The incident had serious potential to cause international embarrassment."
  • Punjab govt cannot investigate PM's security breach case, solicitor general tells SC
  • Solicitor General Tushar Mehta tells the Supreme Court bench that banned organisation Sikhs for Justice made public call for action against the PM during his Punjab visit.
  • SG Mehta argues that inquiry into the PM's security breach case cannot be investigated by state inquiry committee.

State committee was created on same day as the incident: AG Punjab

  • Advocate General Punjab says the state committee was created on the same day as the incident, not after the petition was filed in the Supreme Court.

Whether it's committee or commission, lapses have to be established: CJI Ramana

  • CJI NV Ramana says, "So far as preservation of records is concerned, it's not an issue.
  • As far as commission is concerned, the state is offering to set up a commission, if you have an objection that can be looked at, but what about the Center's commission?
  • "Whether it's committee or commission the lapses have to be established. What's the problem," he added.

We can't be thrown under carpet: Punjab govt calls for an independent committee

  • AG Punjab, appearing for Punjab government, says, "We are apprehensive that the central committee will throw the fault in the Punjab police.
  • We had given certain advice to the SPG they didn't follow it."
  • "If a committee has to be formed let it be an independent committee. We cannot be thrown under the carpet,"

Immediate need is collection and preservation of records: Centre tells SC

  • SC will continue hearing PM's security breach case on Monday
  • CJI Ramana asks the Centre, "If you take any action against the officials, is what they are objecting to?"
  • SG Tushar Mehta replies, "We are not taking any action. How the route was planned and what communication happened is what our committee is looking into."
  • Punjab AG says, "My officers have been issued a notice and summoned in the nature of a fact finding inquiry."
  • CJI Ramana says the hearing will now take place on Monday.
Source: indiatimes,indianexpress,indiatoday
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