What is being called a major breach in the PM's security has ensued a big tug of war between the State and union government. On 5th January, PM’s cavalcade was stranded for 15-20 Minutes – protesting farmers blocked PM’s convoy when he was on his way to National Martyrs Memorial at the Hussainiwala border with Pakistan.
A major accusation that is being leveled against the state government by BJP is the “leaking information about the route taken by the Prime Minister”.
However, this is not the first time; such security breaches have happened before as well. In December 2017, when PM was visiting Noida, two policemen in-charge of piloting PM Modi’s cavalcade took the wrong route and his convoy was stuck for around two minutes in traffic Jam at Mahamaya Flyover. SSP Love Kumar immediately suspended Sub Inspector Dilip Singh and police driver Jaipal.
In 2014, at the event of Maharashtra government’s swearing- in ceremony BJP activist Anil Mishra climbed the podium breaching the security. Mumbai Police took this matter seriously and suspended a police inspector and two constables and launched an internal enquiry.
In 2006, then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s convoy came to a halt as the pilot leading PM’s convoy took the wrong route when PM was on his way to Raj Bhavan in Kerala. Reports suggested that the person who was driving the pilot vehicle was not a policeman but a tourist taxi driver and he had made similar errors in trials.
Earlier that year, a vehicle crossed two SPG barricades in PM’s residential area in 7, Race Course Road breaching PM’s security.
In 2010, again when Manmohan Singh was visiting Kerala, a private car almost entered the road, via which PM’s convoy was also moving. However, the Kerala government denied any security breach at that time.
Interestingly, unlike before, this time the central government is taking this security breach head-on. Many experts are finding it a serious lapse in the PM's security. Though brimming elections in Punjab is making people look at this case with an angle of “political gimmick”, as this incident was not a standalone incident.
However, a PIL by senior advocate Maninder Singh was also filed in the Supreme Court. Hearing the case on Friday, the Court has asked Punjab and Haryana High Court's Registrar General “keep all records in his safe custody” and the Punjab Police, the Special Protection Group (SPG) and other Centre and state agencies are to “cooperate and provide necessary assistance” to him.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta has described this incident before court as “rarest of rare” and blamed both Punjab government and Punjab Police and also called a “case of potential international embarrassment.”
Who is responsible for the PM's security?
The responsibility of the PM's security Special Protection Group (SPG). SPG came into being with the SPG Act 1988. It provides “cover to the Prime Minister, former Prime Minister and their immediate family members up to 5 years after ceasing post if they are residing at the residence allotted.” SPG functions under the cabinet secretariat.
SPG ACT laid down the provision of “proximate security”. Which means, “protection provided from close quarters, during a 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.”
The latest controversy is over the alleged leaking of the PM's route and the accountability of the state government. The SPG Act clearly says that the state government is responsible for assisting SPG groups.
“It shall be the duty of every Ministry and Department of the Central Govt or the State Govt or the Union Territory administration, every Indian Mission, every local or other authority or 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.” Act says.
Therefore, reports suggest that the government may summon officers in Punjab using the SPG Act.