The Supreme Court on Monday issued a notice to the Ministry of Home Affairs on a PIL seeking to make intelligence agencies – Research and Analysis Wing (RAW), Intelligence Bureau (IB) and National Technical Research Organisation (NTRO) – accountable to Parliament.
A Bench comprising Chief Justice Altamas Kabir, Justice Anil R Dave and Justice Vikramajit Sen also sought the assistance of Attorney General G E Vahanvati in this regard.
Senior counsel Anil Divan, appearing for the Centre for Public Interest Litigation (CPIL), told the Bench that a few amendments were made to the petition and that an application had been filed in this regard.
Divan told the Bench that the word ‘mandamus’ had been removed and that another ground has been added. It was on February 1 that that the Bench, which heard the petition for the first time, said that it would examine the plea whether intelligence agencies like the RAW, IB can be brought within the supervisory mechanisms of Parliament and other constitutional bodies.
The petition filed by the NGO CPIL averred that that an expenditure of about `10,000 crore per annum is being incurred on these intelligence-gathering agencies. However, their expenditure is not being audited. The issue of oversight of these intelligence agencies has been pending for a long time.
In the amended application, the CPIL averred that these intelligence agencies have been established and are functioning under the executive orders without any supporting legislation. The executive powers under Article 73 of the Constitution so far as the Central Government is concerned and the corresponding Article 162 as far as the state governments are concerned have been the subject matter of several decisions.
The application further stated that it is settled law that the executive powers under Article 73 and Article 162 cannot be exercised in violation of the Constitution or contrary to statutory provisions or to the prejudice of any citizen or person.
The NGO, in its modified petition, sought a declaration that the three intelligence agencies, said to be functioning without any appropriate legislative oversight, are a threat to the rule of law and fundamental rights of citizens.
The petitioner sought framing of guidelines by the apex court and passing of appropriate directions in the absence of a legislation to protect the rule of law and the fundamental rights.
It also sought directions under the provisions of the Comptroller and Auditor General Act (CAG), 1971 with respect to the audit of expenditure of these agencies.