Judicial scrutiny of intel agencies may dent national security: Supreme Court

Bhushan claimed that in every advanced democracies like the UK and the US, such agencies are accountable to parliamentary panels as they spend tax- payers' money.


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Updated: Feb 24, 2016, 08:20 AM IST

Observing that "getting into the domain of intelligence agencies would dent the national security," the Supreme Court on Tuesday junked a PIL seeking to make IB, RAW and NTRO accountable to Parliament,"We do not think the court should entertain such kinds of petition which deal with security of the country. We are not inclined to entertain this petition...Trying to get into the domain of intelligence may create dent in national security," a bench headed by Justices Dipak Misra said while rejecting the PIL filed by NGO Centre for Public Interest Litigation (CPIL).

Bhushan claimed that in every advanced democracies like the UK and the US, such agencies are accountable to parliamentary panels as they spend tax- payers' money.

"What they do in the United Kingdom, we cannot practise in India," the court said said, adding "They (Centre and Parliament) must be having some measures. It cannot be said that they do not have any mechanism. You need not legislate on all issues. You need to have some kind of caution also, otherwise, the very purpose will be lost."

"We do not think the court should entertain such kinds of petitions which deal with security of the country," it said.

The bench said that irrespective of nature of the PIL, any plea that may dent national security, should not be entertained by courts.

"As a student of History, Law and Literature, I do not think, any court should enter into this territory," Justice Misra said.

On the submission that this court had issued notice on the PIL way back in 2013 and it should not be dismissed like this, the bench asked Bhushan to give suggestions to Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi instead.

The apex court had in 2013 issued notice to the Centre asking to respond on the PIL seeking to bring the agencies under the oversight of Parliament and CAG.

The NGO's petition had sought directions from the court for parliamentary oversight and financial auditing of Research and Analysis Wing, Intelligence Bureau, and National Technical Research Organisation by CAG like in several developed countries.

The NGO had submitted that the agencies were being misused for political purposes and there was an urgent need to make these organisations accountable to Parliament.

On February 1, 2013, advocate Prashant Bhushan, appearing for the NGO, had submitted that India was the only democracy in the world whose intelligence agencies have no legitimacy in the eyes of the law and were not accountable to the people or Parliament.

The bench had said it is a policy matter to be decided by the government, but had agreed to hear the plea after the petitioner contended that earlier too the court had passed directions on policy matters.

"Former heads of these organisations have published books on how the money is misused and how the agencies are misused for political purposes," the petition had said, adding that accountability is required as "more than rupees ten thousand crore is granted to these agencies out of the consolidated fund of India".

—With inputs from agencies