The Army has admitted in the Supreme Court that recruitment to President's Bodyguard (PBG) is open only to Hindu Rajputs, Hindu Jats and Jat Sikhs, saying it is done purely on "functional requirement" and there is no caste and religion bias in it.
In an affidavit filed in the apex court, the Army refuted the allegation that the recruitment was done on the basis of caste and religion, saying ceremonial duties in the Rashtrapati Bhawan demanded common height, built and appearance.
"It is stated that the example of PBG being open to only three classes cited by the petitioner (who alleged bias on part of the Army) once again proves the point that the force structuring/composition is purely based on functional requirement," the affidavit said.
"PBG is a small unit of approximately 150 troops which is placed under the President's Secretariat. Unlike what its name suggests, it is purely a ceremonial unit tasked to perform ceremonies as per the protocol at the Rashtrapati Bhawan. The ceremonial duties demand common height, built, appearance and dress for reason of pomp and projection which are important military attributes while performing such duties," it said.
The response was filed in compliance with the apex court order directing it to respond on a PIL filed by one IS Yadav, a doctor hailing from Rewari in Haryana, seeking abolition of the Army's recruitment criteria for its soldiers on the grounds of caste, region and religion.
He had alleged in the petition that discrimination prevailed in recruiting the bodyguards for the President as three castes alone could be enrolled. "That means no other Indian having any physical, educational and mental capability is eligible for recruitment to the President's Bodyguard because he does not belong to these communities," the petition said.
The Army replied, "The PBG has three troops (platoon-sized sub-units) and, therefore, only three classes could be represented. That is not to say that other classes are not associated with the ceremonial duties at the Rashtrapati Bhawan, which also has an infantry battalion posted in rotational tenures of two to three years."