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President’s Bodyguards only for Rajput, Jat, Sikhs for functional requirement, says Army to SC

The Army has told the Supreme Court that recruitment to President’s Bodyguard (PBG) is open only to Hindu Rajputs, Hindu Jats and Jat Sikhs. The Army said that it is done purely on functional requirement, saying that ceremonial duties in the Rashtrapati Bhavan demand common height, built and appearance and refuted the allegation of petitioner, who alleged biasness on part of Army, that any of the recruitment is done on the basis of caste and religion.

‘It is stated that the example of PBG being open to only three classes cited by the petitioner once again proves the point that Force structuring/composition is purely based on functional requirement,’ Army said in affidavit.

‘PBG is a small unit of approximately 150 troops which is placed under the President’s Secretary. Unlike what its name suggests, it is purely a ceremonial unit tasked to perform ceremonies 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 filed its response in compliance with the apex court order directing it to respond on a PIL filed by one IS Yadav seeking abolition of Indian Army’s recruitment criteria for its soldiers on the grounds of caste, region and religion. He alleged in the petition that discrimination prevails in recruiting the bodyguards for the President as only three castes namely Hindu Rajputs, Hindu Jats and Jat Sikhs can alone be enrolled.

PBG was raised in 1773 at Benares by the then Governor, Warren Hastings. Since being first christened as ‘The Guard of Moguls’ in 1773, the Regiment has had various titles viz. ‘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 Bodyguard.’
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