The Supreme Court on Monday issued notice to the Union Government on a public interest writ petition seeking a mechanism to ensure accountability of the Intelligence Bureau, the Research & Analysis Wing (RAW) and the National Technical Research Organisation (NTRO).

In its petition, the Centre for Public Interest Litigation (CPIL) said these intelligence agencies were the only public authorities functioning under executive orders with no accountability to Parliament or any other democratic institution.

A Bench, comprising Chief Justice Altamas Kabir, and Justices Anil R. Dave and Vikaramajit Sen, issued notice after hearing senior counsel Anil Divan and counsel Prashant Bhushan for the petitioner. The Bench sought the assistance of Attorney General G.E. Vahanvati in this case.

The CPIL said the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India was not auditing the accounts of these agencies, though they got funds from the Consolidated Fund of India. Section 14 of the CAG Act mandated that such an organisation must be audited by the CAG.

Further, India has the dubious distinction of being the only democracy whose intelligence agencies have no legitimacy in the eyes of law and are not accountable to the people or Parliament. The serious anomaly in the nation’s polity and democratic ideals needs to be removed, the CPIL said.

“The Kargil Review Committee pointed out several lacunae in the existing intelligence set-up, the chief being the existence of multiple agencies reporting to different heads. It decried the virtual monopoly of RAW in respect of external intelligence and commented adversely on the wisdom of saddling one agency with multifarious responsibilities of human, communication, imagery and electronic intelligence.”

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