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SC notice on plea for scrutiny of intelligence agencies

Posted on Feb 12, 08:07AM | IANS

New Delhi, Feb 11 : On a petition to bring intelligence agencies under legislative scrutiny and their accounts under the CAG, the Supreme Court Monday issued notice to the central government, Intelligence Bureau, Research and Analysis Wing and National Technical Research Organisation.

The court asked Attorney General G.E. Vahanvati to assist it in the matter.

An apex court bench of Chief Justice Altamas Kabir, Justice Anil R. Dave and Justice Vikramajit Sen issued the notice after senior counsel Anil Divan submitted that these intelligence agencies were snooping on the privacy of the citizens and were operating without any legislative mandate.

Appearing for NGO Centre of Public Interest Litigation, Divan told the court the petition was not seeking any disclosure of secrets but merely asking that there should be some guidelines to regulate the operations of intelligence agencies.

The court was told that the funding of these intelligence agencies was being done from the consolidated fund of India, thus, their accounts should be brought under the scanner of the Comptroller and Auditory General (CAG).

In response to a query by the Chief Justice Kabir as to why the court should issue notice on the plea, Divan said that "these agencies were spying on the people without having any statutory status in law and violating the people's right to privacy guaranteed under the constitution".

"Since these intelligence agencies are public institutions, funded by the tax payer, it is essential that their existence be sanctified by enacting suitable laws," the court was told.

Contending that intelligence agencies across the world, either operated within or outside a country, were under the scrutiny of the law, the petition said that three intelligence agencies in India were "only public authorities which have been operating since their very inception under executive orders issued by the government without any accountability to parliament or any other democratic institution".

"These agencies have often been used for carrying out illegal acts by politicians and bureaucrats," the petition said.

The petition cited books written by those who had served in these agencies that includes 'The Kaoboys of R and AW', by B. Raman, 'Inside IB and RAW' by K. Sankaran Nair, 'Open Secrets - India's Intelligence Unveiled' by Maloy Krishna Dhar.