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The Supreme Court on Monday (January 8) dismissed a public interest litigation that had sought to challenge the recruitment procedure followed for hiring personnel for the President’s Body Guard (PBG), stating that the President of India is the Head of the State and should not be dragged to court through PILs.

The apex court Bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud pulled up petitioner Dr Ishwar Singh for challenging the recruitment conducted for the President’s Body Guard.

“You must understand the nature of a PIL and what is the concept behind it. The President is the Head of the State and you are trying to pull him into a PIL,” the Bench told the petitioner.

The President’s Body Guard was raised in 1773 at Benares (Varanasi) by the then Governor, Warren Hastings. Since being first christened as ‘The Guard of Moguls’ in 1773, the…

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The Supreme Court on Monday (January 8) dismissed a public interest litigation that had sought to challenge the recruitment procedure followed for hiring personnel for the President’s Body Guard (PBG), stating that the President of India is the Head of the State and should not be dragged to court through PILs.

The apex court Bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud pulled up petitioner Dr Ishwar Singh for challenging the recruitment conducted for the President’s Body Guard.

“You must understand the nature of a PIL and what is the concept behind it. The President is the Head of the State and you are trying to pull him into a PIL,” the Bench told the petitioner.

The President’s Body Guard was raised in 1773 at Benares (Varanasi) by the then Governor, Warren Hastings. Since being first christened as ‘The Guard of Moguls’ in 1773, the Regiment has had various titles in the pre-Independence era – The Governor General’s Bodyguard (GGBG) in 1784, The Viceroy’s Bodyguard in 1858, the 44th Divisional Reconnaissance Squadron GGBG in 1944, before getting back it’s old title The Governor General’s Bodyguard in 1947.

With India becoming a Republic on 26 January 1950, the Regiment came to be known as – the President’s Body Guard.

Although an elite group of the best trained personnel drawn from the Indian Army, the President’s Body Guard is largely 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. The PBG comprises of four senior officers – the Commanding Officer usually being of the rank of either a Brigadier of the Indian Army or a Colonel – who are assisted by 14 JCOs and 161 Body Guards (of various ranks accorded by the Indian Army) along with the administrative support personnel. The PBG unit has personnel who are trained paratroopers and tank men and perform their operational duties with the same perfection as the ceremonial duties like swearing in the President and Government, Republic Day parade, Beating Retreat, visits by Heads of States, Guard Changing Ceremony etc.

Although the Indian Army has, at least on one earlier occasion, informed the Supreme Court in another case that had sought to challenge the recruitment process for the PBG that the personnel are not selected on the basis of their caste or religion, it is also a fact that the President’s Body Guard is open only to Hindu Rajputs, Hindu Jats and Jat Sikhs. The Army has always maintained that this selection is done purely on “functional requirement”, that there is no caste and religion bias in it and that the hiring is done on these lines because the ceremonial duties in the Rashtrapati Bhawan demand common height, built and appearance.

—India Legal Bureau

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