Following the withdrawal of more than 2,000 security personnel deployed with various VIPs, the Punjab government has now decided to constitute a board to scrutinise and rationalise security needs of individuals to allow protection cover as per the actual threat perception.
The Punjab home affairs and justice department would constitute the security board on the recommendation of the Punjab Governance Reforms Commission (PGRC).
In its recommendation, as part of the police reforms, the PGRC had suggested that the deployment of police station staff for the security of individuals must be discontinued forthwith. The PGRC recommended that additional force may be sanctioned at the earliest for the security of individuals.
A transparent system must be put in place and preferably a security board should be constituted to scrutinise the security requirements of the person concerned, and thereafter the level of security be allowed, the commission recommended.
Punjab deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal, who also holds the home affairs and justice portfolio, recently ordered cutting down on unnecessary security personnel deployed with various individuals, who were not only proving to be ornamental but also putting an additional burden on the state exchequer.
The PGRC has suggested that the security board needs to have top civil as well as police officials as its members, including those from the Punjab Police intelligence wing. Punjab can take a cue from the Intelligence Bureau (IB), which has a security board; it is on the recommendation of this board that an individual is provided security.
Currently, there are 7,938 security personnel protecting 2,229 individuals, including the chief minister, deputy chief minister, cabinet ministers, MPs, MLAs, serving and retired civil, judicial and retired police officers under Z+, Z, Y and X categories.
On the deputy CM's orders, only 2,040 security personnel have been withdrawn, while the rest would continue to protect individuals.
"Hence, there is a requirement of further rationalising the security needs of an individual and only a board of high-ranked officials can decide on it," the PGRC said in its recommendation.
The Punjab Governance Reforms Commission has also recommended to the home department to fix tenures of district police chiefs, deputy superintendents of police (DSPs) and station house officers (SHOs) as per the Punjab Police Act, 2008. Currently, the average tenure of the SSP, DSP and an SHO in Punjab is about one year, 10 months and six months, respectively. The average tenure of an SHO in 2004, during Capt Amarinder Singh's government, was seven months.
"The instability of tenure adversely affects the delivery of justice. To make the police accountable and service delivery efficient, stability of tenure is an important factor," said the PGRC in its recommendation to the home department.