Did you know why Indian President’s Bodyguard has personnel from only three castes?
New Delhi, Dec 26: The Delhi High Court has sought to know the stands of the Centre and the Indian Army chief on a plea alleging that only three castes are considered while recruiting the President of India's Bodyguard (PBG). A bench comprising Justices S Muralidhar and Sanjeev Narula issued notice to the ministry of defence, chief of the Army Staff, commandant of the PBG and the director, Army recruitment, on the petition, PTI reported.
The court was hearing a PIL by Haryana-based Gaurav Yadav, who sought setting aside of the recruitment of the PBG which was held in September last year as only three castes - Jats, Rajputs and Jat Sikhs were invited for it. According to Yadav, he fulfilled all the eligibility criteria of recruitment as the PBG except caste (he belongs to Ahir/Yadav caste) and sought that he also should be recruited. The petition said "preferential treatment" was being given to three castes while other citizens were being deprived.
But why do people only from the three said castes are recruited to the PBG?
The matter came up in 2013 as well
This issue had come up in 2013 when the Army had admitted in the Supreme Court that recruitment to the PBG is open only to Hindu Jats, Hindu Rajputs and Jat Sikhs, saying there was no caste and religious bias behind this move but only "functional requirement".
In an affidavit filed in the SC, the Army rejected the allegation of bias and said ceremonial duties in the Rashtrapati Bhavan, the official residence of the president of India, required 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 had said.
That time too, a PIL was filed by I S Yadav, a doctor also hailing from Haryana, seeking abolition of the Army's recruitment criteria for its soldiers on grounds of caste, region and religion.
The affidavit further said that the PBG is a small unit of near about 150 troops that is placed under the President's Secretariat. It said the unit is purely a ceremonial one that functions as per the protocol at the Rashtrapati Bhavan. "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 Army also said that the PBG has three troops (platoon-sized sub-units) and hence only three classes could be represented. It said it was not to say that other classes are not associated with the ceremonial duties at the Rashtrapati Bhavan which also includes an infantry battalion posted in rotational tenures.