New Delhi: The Centre on Wednesday told the Supreme Court that there was an “enormous amount of control” over the working of the intelligence agencies, including their finances, by the government as it opposed a plea by an NGO for some oversight over their functioning.
“There is an enormous amount of control over the working of the intelligence agencies. A parliamentary sub-committee (looks) into their working and tables report in parliament which are not published,” Additional Solicitor General P.S. Narasimha told the bench headed by Justice Dipak Misra.
ASG Narasimha said the accounts of the intelligence agencies were audited.
He refused to part with the documents sought by petitioner NGO CPIL, saying they were privileged documents.
He, however, said the same could be shown to the judges for their examination.
The government response came as counsel Prashant Bhushan, appearing for the NGO, told the court that they just wanted to have some “oversight” and “accountability” of the intelligence organisations like legislative control and auditing of their accounts by the CAG.
The intelligence agencies that the NGO was seeking to be brought under legislative scrutiny and the auditing of their accounts by CAG includes the Intelligence Bureau, Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) and the National Technical Research Organisation (NTRO).
The NGO contended that these intelligence agencies were snooping on the privacy of the citizens and were operating without any legislative mandate.
It said it was not seeking any disclosure of secrets but merely asking that there should be some guidelines to regulate the operations of intelligence agencies.
“The primary task of intelligence agencies is to collect intelligence of threats to the nation’s security, from external as well as internal sources,” the CPIL said.
“However, these agencies (IB, RAW and NTRO) have often been used for carrying out illegal acts by politicians and bureaucrats.”
The misuse of these agencies, the PIL said, includes “offering bribes to members of political parties to induce them change their loyalty, rigging and purchasing votes during elections, toppling elected governments, monitoring the activities and telephones of political opponents, and so on”.
To buttress its point, the PIL cited books written by those who had served these agencies, including “The Kaoboys of R&AW” by B. Raman, “Inside IB and RAW” by K. Sankaran Nair, “Open Secrets – India’s Intelligence Unveiled” by Maloy Krishna Dhar.