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President’s taint-free team

Security guards outside Rashtrapati Bhavan. File picture

New Delhi, Sept. 12: Caesar’s wife has got competition. From the President’s guards.

Delhi police, which is in charge of security at the President’s House, will soon replace all “tainted” personnel from the dedicated team that guards the country’s first citizen.

“We are all set to remove police personnel who are facing corruption charges and are under suspension from the President’s House security team. The matter was recently raised by some Rashtrapati Bhavan officials,” said a senior IPS officer.

Those set to be shunted include inspectors, sub-inspectors and head constables.

The message is clear: if you are guarding the President, better be free of taint or, as the saying goes, above suspicion like the Caesar’s wife.

According to records available with the police, over 100 cops among those assigned the job of protecting the President — and other VIPs in the capital — face corruption charges. “Normally, we transfer policemen facing corruption charges to the security wing and police battalions which are considered non-sensitive posting. The tainted officials are not posted at places where there is any scope for public interface,” said deputy commissioner A.K. Shukla, who heads the vigilance wing of Delhi police.

Policemen placed under suspension have to report to police lines every day and are not assigned any work. But considering the lack of manpower, some of them are deployed for security work considered non-sensitive, a source explained.

“The idea is to put them in non-sensitive places as we cannot ask them to sit at home and draw salaries without doing any work. Policemen placed under suspension get half their salaries every month,” Shukla said.

While the SPG looks after the security of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi, some 6,000 Delhi police personnel guard VIPs like the President, Vice-President, ministers, MPs, MLAs, judges and senior bureaucrats. Police personnel are also deployed at the houses of the leader of Opposition and judges of the Supreme Court and the high court.

The President, who is the supreme commander of the country’s armed forces, also has a dedicated team of bodyguards drawn from the army and commando units.

An official said in the last two years over 2,000 policemen were booked on corruption charges and other irregularities. “A majority of them were from police stations and the traffic police wing,” the official added.

The move to shift “corrupt” personnel from the President’s security comes at a time Delhi police has beaten all other state police forces to the first spot on the corruption chart. The National Crime Records Bureau’s latest report, Crime in India-2011, revealed that 12,805 complaints were received against Delhi police personnel in 2011. The force has a strength of 75,117.

Another official said the force topped the list of government departments against whom the anti-corruption bureau had filed corruption cases in 2008, 2009 and 2010. The Municipal Corporation of Delhi came next.

“These are the two departments which have the maximum interface with the public,” the official said.