Robert Vadra set to lose ‘no-frisk’ privileges

Robert Vadra set to lose ‘no-frisk’ privileges

Many of the high and mighty are set to lose the VIP tag that exempts them from frisking and security checks at the country’s civil airports.

Aviation Ministry prepares to cut UPA's list of airport VIPs

Robert VadraNew Delhi: Many of the high and mighty are set to lose the VIP tag that exempts them from frisking and security checks at the country’s civil airports.

The Ministry of Civil Aviation is working on a new list of VVIPs exempt from pre-embarkation security checks at these airports.

According to top aviation sources, it is likely that upto 10 categories will be removed from the current list of those enjoying the special privilege.

That includes the Deputy Chairman of the Planning Commission, the Comptroller and Auditor General, the Chief Election Commissioner, and the three service chiefs. And Robert Vadra.

The husband of Congress leader Sonia Gandhi’s daughter Priyanka Gandhi is on the no-frisk list by virtue of being the spouse of an SPG protectee, thanks to an amendment made to the list by the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government early in its first innings.

Besides the Dalai Lama, Vadra is the only individual whose name is specifically mentioned on the list.

The Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA) and the Bureau of Civil Aviation Security (BCAS) have already had two rounds of talks on the issue.

The two departments are meeting again soon to discuss pruning of the list of categories for exemption from the pre-embarkation security checks list.

Sources said the BCAS is all set to remove the categories added by the UPA government in 2007 by then civil aviation minister Praful Patel.

“Interestingly, Vadra’s name was added as a ‘special case’ even before this,’’ a senior BCAS official said.

Talks on Vadra’s exit from the no-frisk list will involve the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), and the civil aviation ministry has already got a meeting lined up with home ministry officials to discuss the probables whose VIP tags will be removed.

A senior BCAS official told Mail Today on condition of anonymity: “It is certain that dignitaries who got added in 2007 will be dropped from the list. In 2007, MoCA added six categories at one go. From Deputy Chairman of Planning Commission, holders of Bharat Ratna, Chief Election Commissioner, Comptroller and Auditor General of India, Attorney General of India and the Chiefs of Staff of the three services of the armed forces, holding the rank of General or equivalent were added into the list… they may not enjoy the same status any more if the list is made final soon this month.’’

No individual except the Dalai Lama will be on the list, the official said, adding: “It was the MHA that recommended Vadra get exemption from security checks while travelling with a SPG protectee. He is not an SPG protectee himself, and objections were raised at that time too.”

When Vadra was added to the list, there were only 22 categories; he was the 23rd category.

The MoCA added eight categories later, taking the number of exempt categories to 31 categories, including two individuals - Vadra and the Dalai Lama.

The move is in keeping with the Narendra Modi-led government’s stated desire to cut down on some privileges that top government functionaries enjoy. MoCA officials are thus targeting a 10-category cut in the no-frisk list.

Deputy chief ministers and even the Cabinet Secretary may make it to the chopping block along with the categories added by the UPA.

“But the list will be finalised only after discussions with MHA,’’ the official explained.

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