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Jain Commission Interim Report

Threats to Rajiv Gandhi and his Security
Chapter II

Sections 1 to 9

1. Security arrangements provided for Shri Rajiv Gandhi | 2. Parameters of this Commission's inquiry into security aspect | 3. Security set up for the Prime Minister during the period of Smt. Indira Gandhi | 4. Formulation of the security set up for Sh Rajiv Gandhi after the assassination of Smt. Indira Gandhi | 5. Creation of Special Protection Group | 6. Special Protection Group (SPG) | 7. Organisational set up SPG | 8. Conferment of legal status of SPG | 9. SPG Act 1988

Security Arrangements Provided for Shri Rajiv Gandhi

1 The assassination of Shri Rajiv Gandhi at Sriperumbudur on May 21, 1991, most starkly underscored the fact that lapses in the security of threatened public personalities can have disastrous consequences for the country especially in a surcharged atmosphere where threat of international terrorism palpably looms large. After the assassination, one of the priorities of paramount consideration in the mind of the new Government became the provision of effective and adequate security to the surviving threatened public personalities of the country. The SPG Act was amended post-haste by the Parliament to be extended to all former Prime Ministers and their immediate families in September, 1991, and soon after the amendment, the law was implemented; however, all this occurred only after the country had already paid a heavy price.

After the assassination, one of the questions which agitated the minds of all concerned was whether this tragedy could have been averted and whether any lapses in the security cover provided to Shri Rajiv Gandhi or any deficiencies in the security system contributed to the assassination.

1.1 In order to provide an answer to this question of national importance, Justice J.S. Verma Commission of Inquiry was appointed by the Government of India on 27.5.1991 to conduct an Inquiry in the following matters :-

a) Whether the assassination of Shri Rajiv Gandhi could have been averted and whether there were lapses or dereliction of duty in this regard on the part of any of the individuals responsible for his security.

b) The deficiencies, if any, in the security system and arrangements as prescribed or operated in practice which might have contributed to the assassination.

1.2 Justice J.S. Verma sent his report to the Home Minister on June 12, 1992 after completing the task of the Inquiry. The Report of Justic Verma Commission arrived at categorical conclusions under three categories - (I) Findings, (II) Lapses or dereliction of duty and (III) Deficiencies in the Security system. The conclusions arrived by the Justice Verma Commission are placed at Annexure S- 88. Important conclusions which are directly relevant in the context of this subject are summarised below:-

In the findings regarding the Central Government, the Commission concluded that:-


(1) The assessment of threat perception for Rajiv Gandhi was to be made by the IB in accordance with which the MHA / IB was to prescribe security arrangements for him .....

(2) In addition... the IB / MHA was required to provide the operational guidelines for his security.

(3) The IB was required to collect all the intelligence information needed for the security of Rajiv Gandhi and together with the intelligence information conveyed to it by the Cabinet Secretariat or any other agency, it had to disseminate and share the same to provide full intelligence back up to all the States / UTs to enable them to provide effective security to Rajiv gandhi within their respective areas of jurisdiction.

(4) The IB was required to properly appreciate and calibrate all the intelligence information so gathered and issue necessary instructions/ guidelines ......

(5) The IB was required to give its candid professional opinion as the premier intelligence agency to the Central Government about the quality of security cover needed by Rajiv Gandhi even after he ceased to be the Prime Minister, to point out the deficiencies in the security cover provided and to advise the Central Government to remove those deficiencies in order to bridge the gap between security cover needed on the basis of the assessment of threat perception for Rajiv Gandhi made by it and the security cover prescribed and provided to him by the Central Government.

(6) The IB was required to coordinate with the concerned Police Chief of the State / UT for the security of Rajiv Gandhi during his visit to the State /UT ......in view of its assessment of very high threat perception to Rajiv Gandhi even after he ceased to be the Prime Minister...

(7) The responsibility of Central Government in respect of matters ordinarily within the exclusive jurisdiction of the State Administration somewhat increases when the State is under President's Rule; and this was so in respect of Tamil Nadu where the President's Rule was imposed on 30.1.1991 as a result of deteriorating law and order situation in the State and the infiltration with increased illegal activities of LTTE.

(8) The responsibility of Central Government for the security of Rajiv Gandhi during his visit to Tamil Nadu during the PResident's Rule required greater interaction with the State Government for his security , particularly in view of the serious threats posed to him by the Tamil militants ....

Coming to the withdrawal of SPG protection from Shri Rajiv Gandhi, the findings of the Commission were as follows :-

Chapter XVI,

"(9) In view of the continuing high threat to Rajiv Gandhi even on his ceasing to be the Prime Minister...the decision of the Central Government on 30.01.1990 to withdraw the S.P.G. cover to Rajiv Gandhi without provision for a suitable alternative for his proximate security .... and the consequent withdrawal of the S.P.G. cover reducing the level of protection to Rajiv Gandhi without any reduction of the threat to him was contrary to Central Government's own earlier decision as well as his security requirement and was unjustified.

(10) The stated reasons in Cabinet Secretariat's note dated 30.01.1990 for the Central Government's decision to withdraw the S.P.G. cover to the ex- Prime Minister are tenuous. The reasons given were mainly the lack of power under the S.P.G. Act and inadequacy of the strength of S.P.G. apart from a high profile visibility inviting criticism. None of these reasons was considered an insurmountable hurdle to give S.P.G. cover for providing proximate security to the former Prime Ministers also from September 1991 after the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi. There appears no reason why this could not be done earlier for Rajiv Gandhi as ex-Prime Minister when the assessment of threat to him was much higher and, therefore, the need was greater. It appears that the Central Government's decision on 30.01.1990 was prompted more by lack of proper perception or the requisite will than the stated difficulties.

1.3 Coming to the failure of the Central Government and its agencies, Justice Verma held the IB responsible for failure to disseminate information on threat perception regarding Shri Rajiv Gandhi to the Government of Tamil Nadu;

The Commission also held the Central Government responsible for the failure to provide to Rajiv Gandhi a suitable alternative cover for his proximate security after withdrawal of the S.P.G. cover in spite of the proposals of the I.B. to provide ex-S.P.G. personnel or N.S.G. escort even after announcement of general elections accentuating the threat to him.

Parameters of this Commission's Inquiry into Security Aspect

2 This Commission, vide its first term of reference has been entrusted with the assignment of examining and enquiring into the sequence of events leading to, and all the facts and circumstances relating to the assassination of Shri Rajiv Gandhi at Sriperumbudur ( other than the matters covered by the terms of reference for the Commission of Inquiry headed by Justice J.S. Verma).

A detailed inquiry into how events took shape in connection with the security of Rajiv Gandhi becomes an important subject matter of the sequence. While examining that sequence, it cannot be lost sight of as to what protective cover was available to Rajiv Gandhi and at what time. This implies an inquiry into the security arrangements made for Shri Rajiv Gandhi from the time when the need for providing security to him was first felt and till the time he was assassinated.

While conducting an inquiry into this aspect, three phases of the political life of Shri Rajiv Gandhi have to be taken into account - first phase, before Rajiv Gandhi became Prime Minister; second phase, during the period he was the Prime Minister; and the third phase, after he ceased to be the Prime Minister and till he was assassinated.

2.1 The broad parameters which should constitute the framework for an Inquiry by this Commission into the sequence of events pertaining to the security aspect for Rajiv Gandhi can be defined as follows:

How, when and why was a need felt to provide security protection for Shri Rajiv Gandhi ? What were the considerations which went into shaping the actual security arrangements made for him ? What determinants shaped the quality and quantity of the security arrangements provided for him when he became the Prime Minister of India ? Why was a special force - SPG - raised for his protection ? What were the considerations which went into raising of such a force and what determinants shaped the structure, quality and performance of SPG ?

Examination of the sequence of events leading to modifications / alterations in the security arrangements provided to Shri Rajiv Gandhi; What necessitated the alterations ? What were the considerations which went into the reorganisation of his security arrangements particularly during the phase when he had ceased to be the Prime Minister ? What was the quality of the alternative security provided to him ? It becomes relevant to conduct a comparative evaluation between the quality and quantity of security provided by the SPG to Rajiv Gandhi while he was the Prime Minster and those of alternative security arrangements provided when he had ceased to be the Prime Minister.

Trace the causal connections between the alteration in scurity arrangements provided for Rajiv Gandhi and his assassination;

2.2 The objective of this Inquiry is, therefore, confined to the sequence of events and all facts and circumstances relating to the security arrangements provided to Shri Rajiv Gandhi. This part of the Inquiry seeks to set at rest all controversies pertaining to the motives for change in the security set up of Shri Rajiv Gandhi, particularly during the period when he had ceased to be the Prime Minister, and related questions which persistently continue to plague the minds of the public in general and the parties involved in particular.

2.3 This Commission is examining the question of security provided to Rajiv Gandhi only with reference to the sequence of events. While examining this sequence, the Commission will be failing in its duty if it does not examine the crucial question whether adequate security was provided to Rajiv Gandhi all through the period i.e. from the time the first threat perception with regard to his security came in through the different periods when he was the Prime Minister, after he became the leader of the opposition during V.P. Singh's regime and till he was assassinated during the period when the Government headed by Prime Minister Chandrashekhar was in power.

2.4 Shri Rajiv Gandhi entered into the field of politics after the death of his brother Sanjay Gandhi in 1980. Intelligence reports disclose that even when Smt. Indira Gandhi - his mother - was the Prime Minister, threats to the life of Shri Rajiv Gandhi from Sikh militants had already begun to exist as one of the aftermaths of Operation Blue Star. Justice Thakkar Commission, which conducted an Inquiry into the assassination of late Prime Minister Smt. Indira Gandhi observed this fact. Relevant extracts of the report are reproduced below :-

( Page No 11, Final Report of Justice Thakkar Commission of Inquiry)

1.2.6. Threats Uttered:

"On June 12,1984 in London Dr.Jagjit Singh Chauhan was interviewed on BBC Radio-4 in the programme entitled "World at one". In the course of interview the interviewer asked:-

'Do you actually want to see the downfall of Mrs.Gandhi's Government?'

Sri Chauhan answered:-

'You will see the Sikh history if anybody in the history who has touched this holy place was never left alive and I tell you today you may not call it a prophecy. But within a few days you will have the news that Mrs.Gandhi and her family has been beheaded. That is what the Sikhs will do. I tell you. I am sorry to say that. It will definitely hurt you but it will happen,that is history. I cannot change that history."

Threats to the life of Shri Rajiv Gandhi increased manifold as soon as he became Prime Minister owing to the communal riots immediately following the assassination of Smt. Indira Gandhi. Before analysing the security arrangements in respect of Shri Rajiv Gandhi, it will be pertinent to briefly advert to the security system in practice before Sh Rajiv Gandhi became Prime Minister.

Security Set Up for the Prime Minister During the Period of Smt. Indira Gandhi

3 During the period Smt. Indira Gandhi was the Prime Minister, a unit of the Delhi Police called the Special Security District (SSD), headed by a Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP) was responsible for security arrangements at her residence and the two offices at South Block and Parliament House.

3.1 The concern regarding adequate security for the then Prime Minister, Smt. Indira Gandhi was recognised in November 1981 by the concerned agencies in view of growing terrorism in Punjab. The developments leading to an escalation in terrorist activities in Punjab had correspondingly led to an escalation in the threat perception to the security of the Prime Minister.

3.2 In order to ensure adequate security to the Prime Minister in view of increasing threats, in November, 1981, a Special Task Force (STF), was set up. This Force was raised and trained by the Intelligence Bureau. Officers of the rank of Inspector/ Sub-Inspector were deputed in this Force to perform ring round and escort car duties for the PM during her journeys in Delhi as well as on tours to different States. This was perhaps the first time that a Special Force was created exclusively for the purpose of providing proximate security to a VVIP. The strength of this Force was Eight Inspectors and 32 Sub-Inspectors who were taken on deputation from the Police Organisations/IB. The personnel of STF were provided an initial training extending to over 21 weeks.

The performance of the STF was evaluated to be far superior when compared to their counterparts in the State Police forces. Consequently, proposals were sent to expand this Force by creating additional posts of 3 DCIOs (Deputy Supdts. of Police), 12 ACIO-s-I (Inspectors) and 28 ACIOs-II(Sub- Inspectors). These posts were sanctioned by the Government in November 4, 1984.

By then, Smt. Indira Gandhi, had already been assassinated by her own security guards and the entire question of Prime Minister's security had to be given a fresh consideration.

Formulation of the Security Set Up for Shri. Rajiv Gandhi After the Assassination of Smt. Indira Gandhi

4 After the assassination of Smt. Indira Gandhi by her own security guards, it became clear that the existing security system was ill suited and it became essential to devise foolproof methods to ensure effective security. Soon after Shri Rajiv Gandhi took charge as the Prime Minister of India, and after the anti-Sikh riots were brought under control, as an ad hoc measure, a Committee of Secretaries met on 4th November, 1984, to review his security arrangements and decided that :-

Security for the PM while in Delhi would be in the exclusive charge of a special group of men under the direct and unitary control of a designated officer. A Joint Director of the IB would be entrusted direct and final responsibility for enforcing the security for the PM and the special group would report to him.

The immediate security cover for the PM while he is outside his residence whether in Delhi or elsewhere will also be provided by the members of STF.

4.1 In pursuance of the above decisions and the proposals sent by the IB, 781 posts of various ranks, including plain clothes, communication and technical staff, were sanctioned by the Government. It was decided by MHA that 499 uniformed personnel would be drawn from the CRPF and placed under the operational control of the STF.

In early 1985, 816 officers and men were on security duty at the PM's residence including the new house, South Block and Parliament House. Of these, 163 were from the STF, 276 from the SFF, 283 from CRPF and 94 from Delhi Police.

Creation of Special Protection Group

In the Report of Justice J.S. Verma Commission, SPG finds a passing mention in the context of the inquiry into the aspect whether the assassination could have been averted; however, in this inquiry, where the sequence of events leading to the assassination is required to be traced, a detailed examination of SPG, its genesis, structure, quality and functioning as an exclusively trained proximate security force becomes essential.

4.3 The genesis of SPG can be traced to the constitution of a group of security experts by the Secretary, Ministry of Home Affairs on February 15, 1985, the objective of which was to examine various aspects related to Prime Minister's security including setting up of an exclusive Force entrusted with PM's security, its structure and training etc. (Annexure S- 1, Ex 376). The group was headed by Birbal Nath, Officer on Special Duty ( Law and Order), Ministry of Home Affairs and comprised representatives of M/ Home, Delhi Police, Intelligence Bureau and Research & Analysis Wing.

4.4 The Group submitted its recommendations on March 16,1985. Relevant recommendations of the Committee are summarised below (Ex. 376, Chapter V):-

There is a vital link between intelligence and security ..but intelligence by itself cannot provide security. The well identified threats to the security of the VVIP in India arise from Sikh extremists, J&K Liberation Front and Anand Margis.

( Chapter II, Paras 2.3 - 2.5)

Inherent in the exercise of power is the process of antagonisation of some individuals and sections as no action taken by a government can find universal acceptance. (CHAPTER III, para 3.1)

World over the response of Government to increasing threats to their VVIPs has been marked by the creation of a highly trained special force to protect the VVIP which provides proximate security to the VVIP wherever he goes. (para 3.20)

There should be a compact, elite, specially trained unit to provide security to the VVIP. This elite force should conform to a work culture of excellence and should not accept any compromise in performance.

(Chapter IV ,paras 4.1, 4.3)

4.5 This Committee of Security Experts had correctly realised that given the changing threat scenario with respect to the Prime Minister, it had become imperative that an exclusive, elite, compact and well trained force be raised to meet the threat. The SPG was resultantly created through an executive order of the Government on 30th March, 1985.

4.6 Several witnesses who deposed before the Commission have also spoken about the need for raising a special force for the protection of the Prime Minister. Relevant extracts of the depositions are reproduced below :-

a) Shri P. Chidambaram, the then Minister of State for Internal Security, (deposition dt. 7.12.96) :-

"....given the security situation in India, it was necessary to create a special force to protect the person holding the Office of P.M. Because the previous PM was assassinated by her own security guards it was necessary to have a specially trained security force for the PM.

It is a fact that Shri Rajiv Gandhi was son of an assassinated PM and that may have been a reason or a factor taken into consideration for creating SPG."

b) Shri V.G. Vaidya, former Director, Intelligence Bureau, stated that -

Deposition dt. 17.12.96 :-

"SPG was set up and provided to Shri Rajiv Gandhi in 1985. The background was Smt. Indira Gandhi's assassination, Riots had taken place earlier to the setting up of the SPG. I produce the report of Birbal Nath Committee for constitution of SPG."

c) Shri R. Vasudevan, the then Special Secretary in the Prime Minister's Office has elaborated on the need for the creation of SPG as follows :-

Further statement of Shri R. Vasudevan - 2nd May,1996 :-

"The threat perception was very very high after the assassination of Smt Indira Gandhi and circumstances that followed in and around Delhi to Mr Rajiv Gandhi and his family. I agree that it was felt necessary to set up SPG immediately after the assassination of Smt Indira Gandhi. It was set up in 1985 although there was no Act at that time."

4.7 Shri V.P. Singh, former Prime Minister of India described the need for setting up of SPG as follows :-

Deposition of V.P. Singh dt. 28.10.1996, Page No.4-6 :-

"At the time of assassination of Smt.Gandhi, the existing security system changes would have been made.......... After her assassination, the security experts came to the conclusion that in view of the increased threat in the changed circumstances, the security arrangement should be stepped up which led to the formation of a Special Protection Group. But still, it did not have the character of the Armed Force....."

4.8 Events which led to the creation of the SPG are enumerated below (Ex. 376):-

A meeting of Committee of Secretaries was convened on 21.3.1985 by the Cabinet Secretary and attended by Secretaries, Home and Department of Expenditure, Director, R&AW, Director, Intelligence Bureau and other officers. (Annexure S- 2) The Committee resolved that :-

The name of the Force may be Special Protection Unit (SPU) headed by an Inspector General of Police who will bear total responsibility for the functioning of the Unit. SPU be located in Delhi.

Contact with the Intelligence Bureau be maintained by giving to the IG, an appropriate ex-officio status in the IB.

The 780 strong Force would comprise totally of deputationists obtained through a very strict selection process to be laid down in specific details.

A single substantial allowance over and above the emoluments drawn by the deputationists in his parent cadre should be provided as a percentage to the personnel who join SPU.

The Ministry of Home Affairs, in consultation with the Department of Law should make appropriate legal provisions to cover the functioning of SPU.

Till the legislation is carried through, legal cover, ad interim, should also be made available.

The responsibilities relating to the IB the Delhi Police and the SPU will need to be carefully delineated.

Special Protection Group (SPG)

5 On March 30, 1985, ( vide Government of India, Cabinet Secretariat Order No. A-11013/16/85 DO- I)(Annexure S- 3) President of India created 819 posts for the unit under Cabinet Secretariat. The SPU was then rechristened Special Protection Group ; the post of IGP was redesignated as Director. The SPG came into being on 8th April, 1985 when Dr.S.Subramaniam, then Joint Director (VIP Security) in the IB assumed Office.

5.1 The developments leading to the creation of the SPG have been summarised by CW/39 Shri Shyamal Datta, present Director, SPG, in his deposition before the Commission on 28th January, 1997. Relevant extracts of the deposition are reproduced below :-

"S.P.G. came into being in March, 1985. It was charged with providing proximate security to the Prime Minister and his immediate family members. Actually before 1981, the security of the Prime Minister at his residence and offices used to be looked after by Special Security District of Delhi Police under the charge of DCP. It was in October, 1981 that a Special Task Force was raised by I.B. to provide ring-round and escort to the Prime Minister during his movements both in Delhi and outside. Then after the assassination of Smt. Indira Gandhi in October, 1984, a review was undertaken by a Committee of Secretaries and it was decided to entrust security of the Prime Minister to a Special Group under unitary and direct control of designated officer and S.T.F. to provide immediate security cover both in Delhi and outside.

These decisions were taken as short term measures. Then subsequently in February 18, 1985, MHA set up Birbal Nath committee to go into the issue in its entirety and submit its recommendation. In March, 1985, the Birbal Nath Committee submitted its recommendations of raising a Special Protection Unit of specially trained body of men with attractive terms and conditions of service under a designated officer holding the rank of I.G.(P). The Committee of Secretaries considered these recommendations on 21.3.1985 and endorsed that the S.P.U. under an officer of the rank of I.G. with an ex-official status in I.B. would have total responsibility for the functioning of the Unit.

Among other decisions taken were that this Unit should consist of specially trained men under strict norms with a tenure of six years, substantial allowances etc. This Committee also decided that this Unit should be accorded legal status for proper functioning. Then under the Cabinet Sectt. order dated 30.3.1985, S.P.U. was set up. On 8.4.1985, S.P.G. came into being by the Cabinet Sectt. Order and then on 2.6.1988, S.P.G. Act came into being."

5.2 Creation of SPG required an elaborate exercise in order to clearly deleniate responsibility of various agencies concerned with the security of the Prime Minister. The provisions contained in the 'Blue Book' - which lays down security guidelines for the protection of the Prime Minister - had to be harmoniously blended with this new concept of proximate security.

5.3 The detailed guidelines which were formulated in this context are listed out in a note (Annexure to letter No. VI.23013/11/85-GPA.III dated 14th May, 1985)(Annexure S-s 4 &5, Ex. 376).

Briefly, the division of responsibility, as set out in this note envisaged that :-

The total responsibility for the efficient and effective functioning was vested with the Director SPG

Security arrangements for the protection of the Prime Minister were instructed to be made in accordance which the provisions of the "Blue Book".

Intelligence Bureau and the State/UT Police concerned were responsible for coordination, collection and dissemination of intelligence affecting VIP security.

State/UT Police concerned and the SPG were responsible for providing physical security arrangements for the Prime Minister; the Intelligence Bureau was to provide the required intelligence inputs to these operational agencies.

While in Delhi, the over-all responsibility for providing protection arrangements for the Prime Minister was that of the Delhi Administration / Police; SPG was made fully responsible for the security at the residence of the Prime Minister, offices of the Prime Minister and the Parliament House. In addition, the SPG was to provide proximate protection arrangements in the form of Personal Security Officers, escort for the road journeys and ring-round staff at places of functions in Delhi.

COMMISSIONER OF POLICE, Delhi was to be responsible for local intelligence coverage , other security arrangements including law and order arrangements at the route and all place of visit, near the residence and offices of the Prime Minister.

Responsibility of the INTELLIGENCE BUREAU was for providing intelligence regarding threats and activities of various groups having a bearing on the security of the Prime Minister to the Delhi Police and the Special Protection Group.

SPECIAL PROTECTION GROUP was made exclusively responsible for making security arrangements at the residence of the Prime Minister, offices at Race Course Road, South Block and Parliament House. In addition, Special Protection Group to provide Personal Security Officers and escort personnel during road journeys; to provide ring- round personnel for proximate protection at functions;

As regards the SECURITY ARRANGEMENTS FOR THE PRIME MINISTER WHEN ON TOUR AND TRAVEL, it was stipulated that the over-all responsibility was that of the State Government/Union Territory Administration concerned in whose jurisdiction the Prime Minister may be present for the time being. However, the Special Protection Group was given the responsibility for providing proximate Protection to the Prime Minister by deploying PSOs, ring-round teams and escort personnel.

5.4 The posts sanctioned for the SPG were over 900 personnel. On the date of its creation, 160 personnel including ministerial staff, who were functioning in the STF, were transferred to SPG. Nearly 400 personnel were added to this strength during the course of eleven months increasing the number in position to 558. (Annexure S- 7)

Organisational Set-Up of the SPG

6 The Special Protection Group, over a period of time, grew both in size as well as in specialisation. The SPG is divided broadly into the following four categories (Annexure S- 7):-

i) OPERATIONS :- This category looks after the actual protection duties;

In the Operations Branch, there are components like Communications Wing, Technical Wing and Transport Wing.

ii) TRAINING :- This category deals with the training of personnel on a continuous basis;

The SPG imparts training in physical efficiency, firing, anti-sabotage checks, communication and other operative aspects connected with close protection drills and having a bearing on VVIP security with a view to maintaining a high level of physical fitness and to fine-tune the operational skills of SPG officers. The Syllabi of the training programme is constantly reviewed and updated to effectively thwart threats from newer areas and in keeping with existing threat perception.


This category looks after the threat assessment, internal intelligence pertaining to personnel, verification of character and antecedents, tours and other allied jobs; and,

iv) ADMINISTRATION :- This category deals with personnel, procurement and other chores.

The functional effectiveness of SPG and other related matters have been discussed in details at the appropriate places later in this chapter.

Conferment of Legal Status to SPG

7 The Special Protection Group (SPG), till 2nd. June, 1988, functioned as a security group purely on the strength of an Executive Order without a legal cover under any legislative enactment.

It may be recalled that in the meeting of Committee of Secretaries held on March 21, 1985, it was, inter-alia, concluded that Ministry of Home Affairs, in consultation with the Department of Law, should make appropriate legal provisions to cover the functioning of SPU.

In pursuance to this, the Special Protection Group Bill, 1988 was introduced in Parliament; after it was passed by both Houses of Parliament, it received the assent of the President on 2nd June, 1988.

7.1 Shri P. Chidambaram, the then Minister of State for Internal Security, was involved in working out the modalities of the Bill and he cleared the Cabinet note for enactment of the SPG Act in 1988. It was on this note that the Cabinet took its decision.

(Deposition of P. Chidambaram dt. 23rd. Dec. 1996)

At this stage, questions were raised from some quarters regarding the need for such a legislation, especially in the light of the fact that the SPG had been effectively functioning for three years without a legislation. Shri V.P. Singh, during his deposition before the Commission, touched upon this. He stated :-

Deposition of V.P. Singh dt. 28.10.1996, Page No.4-6 :-

"The present Home Minister Shri Inderjit Gupta in his Parliamentary speech of May 11, 1988 .stated that 'as far as the Prime Minister is concerned, the only question that I would like to ask is why after three years since April 1985 when the SPG was formed, now suddenly it seems the Govt. has woken up to the fact that the Group which has been in existence and functioning for three years has no legal status and therefore it is necessary to have a statute in Parliament to give it the necessary legal status'."

7.1.1 An answer to this can be found in the considerations which provided the impetus for tabling of the Bill in the Parliament. Shri V.P. Singh, during his deposition before the Commission, has referred to extracts from the debate on the SPG Bill in Parliament, during which, Shri P. Chidambaram had made clear the underlying considerations . As per the deposition of Shri V.P. Singh :-

Deposition of Shri V.P.Singh dt. 04.10.1996, Page No.3 :-

"The debate took place on 10-11 May, 1988. Mr.Chidambaram said 'Let me make one thing clear at the outset. This bill is intended to protect the person who holds the Office of the Prime Minister. The Office of the Prime Minister is a pivot around which the polity of the country revolves'.... He prefaces the whole debate with the sentence 'I beg to move the bill to provide for the Constitution and regulation of an armed force of the Union for providing proximate security to the Prime Minister of India and the Members of his immediate family...."

While deposing before the Commission on this issue, Shri P. Chidambaram endorsed this opinion. He stated :-

Deposition of CW/27 Shri P. Chidambaram dt. 06.11.1996 (Page No.3-6)

"..The idea of enacting a separate Law regarding SPG was processed during my time.... After the assassination of Smt. I. Gandhi, the vulnerability of the person holding the office of P.M. became quite clear to many of us and therefore, we took the decision to enact the law to protect the person who held the office of Prime Minister......."

7.1.2 Another consideration for conferring legal status on the SPG appears to be to formalise all instructions required to be followed by the SPG under one umbrella. As per Shri P. Chidambaram : -

Deposition dated 6.11.96 :-

"My understanding is if SPG is to be given the status of Armed Force, then law is necessary.... SPG was governed by separate instructions, which in fact was in addition to the Blue Book and then the SPG Act was legislated. Thereafter instructions were issued in exercise of powers under the Act."

7.1.3 A third consideration appears to be a perceived need to provide legal cover to the SPG personnel during the discharge of their legitimate duties. On this issue, Shri R. Vasudevan, Special Secretary, in his deposition dated 7th. May, 1996, before the Commission, has stated :-

"SPG Act provided that SPG would be an Armed Force of the Union and would be entitled to legal cover for acts performed by the personnel in pursuance of their duties."

7.2 It is pertinent to mention here that conferment of legal status to the SPG had nothing to do with its functional effectivenes as clarified by Shri Chidambaram himself. In other words, functionally, the SPG remained equally effective before and after the legal cover. Shri P. Chidambaram stated :-

(Deposition dt. 6.11.96)

"There was no qualitative difference about SPG cover prior to enacting the law and after enacting the law except that it enjoyed statutory powers under the law and a certain statutory protection available to it under the law."

7.3 Although much importance has been attached to this third consideration i.e. legal protection, material available before the Commission indicates that since the time of enactment of SPG Act, till today, no occasion has arisen necessitating the invocation of this legal protection by the SPG.

SPG Act 1988

7.4 The abovementioned considerations which apparently necessitated conferment of legal status on SPG find articulation in the SPG Act 1988, salient features of which can be seen in the following sections of the Act :-


"This Act received the assent of the President on the 2nd June 1988.

An act to provide for the constitution and regulation of an armed force of the Union for providing proximate security to the Prime Minister of India and the members of his immediate family and for matters connected therewith.

S. 2 (a) "active duty" in relation to a member of the Group means any duty as such member during the period when he is posted to physically protect the Prime Minister of India and the members of his immediate family, wherever he or they may be;"


S.2 "(g) 'proximate security means protection provided from close quarters, during journey by road, rail, aircraft, watercraft or on foot or any other means of transport and shall include the places of functions, engagements,residence or halt and shall comprise ring round teams, isolation cordons, the sterile zone around, and the rostrum and access control to the person or members of his immediate family;"


4 (1) "There shall be an armed force of the Union called the Special Protection Group for providing proximate security to the Prime Minister and the members of his immediate family."

S.13. The Central Government may, by general or special order published in the Official Gazette, direct that, subject to such conditions and limitations as may be specified in that order, any member of the Group may exercise or discharge such powers or duties as may be specified in the said order for giving effect to the provisions of this Act.

S. 14. It shall be the duty of every Ministry and Department of Administration, every Indian Mission, every local or other authority of every civil or military authority to act in aid of the Director or any member of the Group whenever called upon to do so in furtherance of the duties and responsibilities assigned to such Director or member.


S. 15. "No suit, prosecution or other legal proceeding shall lie against the Group or any member thereof on whom powers have been conferred or duties have been imposed under this Act, or any order issued or any rule made thereunder for anything which is in good faith done or purported to be done or omitted to be done in pursuance of this Act or any order issued or any rule made thereunder or any order issued under any such rule. "

7.5 Passing of the SPG Act, 1988, had an extremely significant fallout with far reaching implications. The SPG Act, 1988, legally circumscribed the parameters restricting SPG protection exclusively to the Prime Minister and his immediate family members. This became a controversial issue when the question of providing protection to Shri Rajiv Gandhi was debated after he had ceased to be the Prime Minister of India in December 1989. Details of this controversy have been discussed at the appropriate stage in this chapter.

8 A question has arisen before the Commission as to why provision was not made at the time of enactment of the SPG Act 1988 for providing security to the former Prime Ministers and their families as well; had it been done, there would have been no confusion regarding extension of SPG protection to Shri Rajiv Gandhi, as demanded by Congress (I) after he had ceased to be the Prime Minister in December 1989 and SPG cover was substituted with an alternative security.

8.1 A glance at the sequence of events which led to the creation of SPG shows that SPG was, in fact, created for the protection of Shri Rajiv Gandhi when he was the Prime Minister keeping in view the threat perceptions applicable to him.

This fact has been forcefully brought home in the Report of Justice J.S. Verma Commission of Inquiry. Chapter IX, para 9.14, of the report categorically states as follows :-

9.14 ....It was for Rajiv Gandhi as Prime Minister, in view of very high threat to him, that the Special Protection Group was constituted which had been trained specially to provide protection to Rajiv Gandhi against threat to him from several sources."

Shri P. Chidambaram, during his deposition before the Commission elaborated on this and confirmed that :-

Deposition of Shri P. Chidambaram dt. 21.11.1996 (Page No.1-2)

"The person holding the office of Prime Minister after the assassination of Smt. Indira Gandhi till the SPG Act was passed in 1988 was having serious threats and was extremely vulnerable.....(a) the aftermath of riots following the assassination of Smt. Indira Gandhi (b) threats from Sikh militants to Rajiv Gandhi and his family (c) attack on Shri Rajiv Gandhi at Raj Ghat on 2nd October, 1986 (d) information received in November 1987 of LTTE threats to assassinate Shri Rajiv Gandhi.

Shri Rajiv Gandhi was the Prime Minister at that time. Therefore a law to protect the person holding the office of Prime Minister was necessarily to Shri Rajiv Gandhi at that time."

8.2 It is, indeed, ironical, that when a law was being enacted to regulate an organisation created for the proximate security of Shri Rajiv Gandhi as Prime Minister, it did not contemplate provision of protection to him when he ceased to be the Prime Minister and faced magnified threats as has been brought out in the analysis of threat perception in the preceding chapter.

8.2.1 Shri P. Chidambaram, in his deposition dt. 6.11.96, has attempted to explain away this issue by giving a justification that the decision to confine SPG protection only to the PM was in order to retain its effectiveness. He stated :-

"... since it was a new Organisation, we thought that in order to be effective it should be confined to the office of the Prime Minister."

Deposition dt. 7th Dec. 1996 (Page No.6)

"........ Since we were creating a special force, and it was a new experiment, we confined it to the Prime Minister and it was not extended to anyone......"

(Deposition dt. 6.11.96)

"There were constraints on personnel, constraints on training at the time when the Law was enacted."

8.2.2 While SPG was raised and deployed keeping in mind the specific threats to the security of Shri Rajiv Gandhi, when the bill was debated for enactment of a statute for the SPG, the office of the Prime Minister became the primary consideration. Shri P. Chidambaram, in his deposition dt. 6th November, 1996, conceded that :-

"During the processing of the bill it never occurred that it would be extended to the ex- P.M..... This development of enacting a law was not oriented because of personalities."

8.3 During his deposition before the Commission, Shri V.P. Singh has squarely laid the blame for this at the doorstep of the Congress (I) Government which was then in power and was instrumental in piloting the SPG Bill in the Parliament, of not contemplating the option of extending SPG cover to former Prime Ministers.

Deposition of VP Singh dt. 12th November , 1996, (P. NO.5-7) :-

"I have evidence of Shri Mani Shankar Aiyer who, in his Parliament Speech dated 13th May, 1993, Col.386 has stated 'I also admit to the arrogance that was in the mind of the Congress party when at the time of framing the Act it did not envisage the possibility that Rajiv would cease to be the P.M. and would still be in need of the SPG protection. I confess that.' This proves that it was the arrogance of the Congress Party as per the main spokesman Shri Mani Shankar Aiyer that they were totally oblivious of the security threat of ex- Prime Minister."

8.3.1 Deposing before the Commission, Shri P. Chidambaram admitted that :-

"...I did not undertake any exercise to anticipate a situation when Rajiv Gandhi may lose elections and demit the office."

Deposition of Shri P. Chidambaram, dt. 23rd. Dec., 1996 :-

"We were fully aware that even in 1988 Rajiv Gandhi would need security even if he ceased to be Prime Minister, but it was not thought, at that stage, that it should be by SPG. Equal protection to SPG could have been provided by amending the Blue Book."

Shri P. Chidambaram, in the deposition also attempted to lay the blame on the Intelligence Bureau for failing to perceive such a contingency, even though he was incharge of security. He stated:

"I was in charge of security then...... IB should have considered the matter at the pre- election stage that if in the post election period Rajiv Gandhi does not come to power, what would be his security scenario."

8.4 At this stage, it is pertinent to mention that while the debate was on in Parliament regarding the passing of the SPG Act, on 12th May, 1988, Shri P. Upendra, Member of Parliament, raised this precise point in the Rajya Sabha. Extract of his statement on this aspect in the Rajya Sabha, which is eloquently self explanatory, is reproduced below :-

Exh.610-Rajya Sabha debates dated 12.05.1988- Col.No.293 and 294

"SHRI PARVATHANENI UPENDRA. The Minister will reply on this.(Interruptions) Suppose you say there are special reasons for a particular family or a particular individual and they are exposed to a big security risk, goes out of power or office tomorrow then who will protect him? What will happen to him? This Bill does not say about that (Interruptions) I am posing this question to the Minister. Let him answer because these points will arise. You are concerned about the Prime Minister and no Prime Minister is permanent."

9 In this entire controversy, the most honest admission comes from the AICC(I) spokesman, Shri M.J. Akbar, who was quoted in a news item captioned "Lone securityman in Rajiv's wake" published in "Times of India, New Delhi" dt. February 8th, 1990, on the subject of scaling down of Rajiv Gandhi's security. He has been quoted to have said :

"Just because Mr. Rajiv Gandhi is no longer the Prime Minister it does not mean that he has become less of a target. On the contrary, he is more of a target now and more vulnerable.... it was our fault..that we did not envisage a political scenario in which Mr. Rajiv Gandhi would not be the Prime Minister. But what is the price we are expected to pay for this fault? It is for the nation to judge the issue."

10 It can be said that the policy of the Congress was short sighted. But the matter requires to be examined in this light that a law is enacted to a situation prevailing at a given time. Law has to respond to felt necessities of the time. The threat scenario of Rajiv Gandhi was in view at the time of creation of SPG by an executive order, and, to provide legal cover, SPG Act was enacted in 1988.

At the time of the enactment of the SPG Act, had there been any former Prime Minister facing very grave threats to his life, and if, in that situation, such former Prime Minister would have been excluded from the ambit of the Act, it could be legitimately and successfully argued that the Government of Rajiv Gandhi had deliberately excluded such former Prime Minister who, too, was facing extremely grave threats to his life; however, such was not the situation. If Rajiv Gandhi lost majority in election and ceased to be the Prime Minister, but his threat scenario, instead of going down, escalated or accentuated and graph gone high, situation or felt necessity demanded amendment in the SPG Act to cover ex- Prime Minister. But this was not done. Why was it not done ? Was it not the felt necessity - are the questions to be examined.

11 The controversy regarding the quality and nature of security provided by the new Government to Shri Rajiv Gandhi after he demitted charge as the Prime Minister and its subsequent ramifications, is an integral part of the sequence of events with regard to the security aspect. Many arguments have been put forth by various parties regarding the adequacy / inadequacy of the security provided to Rajiv Gandhi after he ceased to be the Prime Minister of India and till he was assassinated.

In the light of the arguments what is required to be examined is whether the decisions taken by the intelligence and security experts as well as the bureaucrats and the Political executive who were directly concerned with the question of provision of security to Shri Rajiv Gandhi, were based on relevant considerations and after taking into account all the factors connected with this aspect. It has also to be examined as to what was the response of the concerned to the changing threat scenario and circumstances which necessitated further strengthening and modification of his security system. Was the system adequately geared to cope with all possible contingencies? What was the process of this thinking and what concrete steps had been taken in this regard. A detailed examination of this part of the sequence of events has been dealt later.



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