Saturday 26 February 2011

Intelligence Agencies Of India Need Parliamentary Oversight And Reforms

The intelligence agencies of India need urgent reforms and Parliamentary oversight. Presently, these agencies are enjoying a protection of secrecy, non accountability and lack of Parliamentary oversight.

Surprisingly, Parliament of India has been very lax in bringing these agencies under some sort of accountability and legislative oversight. The legislations like Official Secret Act provided immunity and blanket protection to the works of these agencies whereas other transparency legislation like Right to Information Act, 2005 are simply not applicable to them.

In the absence of any legal framework governing the functioning of these agencies and lack of Parliamentary oversight, how the performance and acts of these agencies can be analysed is a big question.

While none can dispute the importance of national security yet there should be a balance and reconciliation between national security and civil liberties in India. According to Praveen Dalal, a Supreme Court lawyer and leading techno legal expert of India, Projects like Aadhar/UID, National Intelligence Grid (NATGRID), Crime and Criminal Tracking and Systems (CCTNS), Central Monitoring System (CMS), etc are required for National Security but Civil Liberties and Fundamental Rights are also of Prime Importance.

Thus, when civil liberties are neglected for the sake of some assumed national security, it is a constitutional failure. For instance, the present unconstitutional phone tapping practices adopted by Indian government and its security and intelligence agencies has already become a constitutional failure. If Parliament of India does not intervene immediately, people would loose faith upon constitution of India.

The truth is that intelligence agencies of India need urgent Parliamentary oversight and administrative reforms.