Following the frisking of Chandrababu Naidu recently at the Vijayawada airport, there
were protests by TDP MLAs and cadre about the incident. Some even went to the extent of saying that he served as the CM for 14 years and hence deserves exemptions.
But do the rules allow exemption from security check for former Chief Ministers (CMs)?
Who are those VVIPs that are exempted from the pre-embarkation security check at the civilian airports in the country? What is the basis for extending such exemptions?
What is the basis for Exemptions?
The reply received from the Ministry of Civil Aviation, Government of India in response to an RTI application filed by Factly has the answers.
According to the reply, a total of 32 categories of people are exempted from pre-embarkation security check at the civilian airports. Such exemption is granted on the basis of the following
- On the basis of Protocol
- On the basis of reciprocity/bilateral agreement in respect of foreign dignitaries
- On the basis of Security grounds
Who all are exempted?
Based on the above grounds, Government of India has exempted the following categories of people from pre-embarkation checks at civilian airports.
- Vice President
- Prime Minister
- Governors of States
- Former Presidents
- Former Vice President
- Chief Justice of India
- Speaker of Lok Sabha
- Union Ministers of Cabinet rank
- Chief Ministers of States
- Deputy Chief Ministers of States
- Deputy Chairman, Planning Commission
- Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha & Rajya Sabha
- Holders of Bharat Ratna Decoration
- Ambassadors of foreign countries, charge D’ Affairs and High Commissioners and their spouses
- Judges of Supreme Court
- Chief Election Commissioner
- Comptroller & Auditor General of India
- Deputy Chairman Rajya Sabha & Deputy Speaker of Lok Sabha
- Minister of State of the Union Council of Ministers
- Attorney General of India
- Cabinet Secretary
- Lt Governors of Union Territories
- Chiefs of staffs holding the rank of full General or equivalent rank
- Chief Justices of the High Courts
- Chief Ministers of Union Territories
- Deputy Chief Ministers of Union Territories
- Visiting Foreign dignitaries of the same status at SI. Nos. 1 to 4,7,8,9 above
- His Holiness the Dalai Lama
- SPG Protectees
- Spouse of the President of India is exempted from pre-embarkation security checks at all civil airports even when he/she is not accompanying the President
- Former Prime Ministers of India
Note: The Accompanying spouse of the above said VVIPs/VIPs is also exempted from pre-embarkation security checks at all civil airports in the country
It is clear that the former CMs are not in the list of exempted category of individuals. Hence frisking of Naidu was as per rules.
What is the SPG?
The Special Protection Group (SPG) is formed in 1988 by an act of the Parliament for “providing proximate security to the Prime Minister of India and former Prime Minister of India and members of their immediate families.” Family members of a serving Prime Minister (PM) may decline security. Former PMs and their immediate family members may also, if they choose, decline SPG security.
The issue of Robert Vadra
This list had undergone changes in 2015 after the furore over the inclusion of Robert Vadra’s name in the exempted list. This new list of VVIPs/VIPs who are exempted from pre-embarkation security checks at all civil airports in the country does not include the name of Robert Vadra. The only other change compared to the old list is an additional note at the bottom of this list that says, ‘The Accompanying spouse of the above said VVIPs/VIPs is also exempted from pre-embarkation security checks at all civil airports in the country’.
This means that if Mr. Robert Vadra is accompanying Mrs. Priyanka Gandhi and if she is a SPG protectee, then Mr. Vadra would still be exempted from pre-embarkation check.