SC issues notices on plea to make IB, RAW accountable

The Supreme Court, accepting a petition seeking that India's two top spy agencies – the Intelligence Bureau (IB) and the Research & Analysis Wing (RAW) – should be made accountable to the Comptroller & Auditor of India and to Parliament, issued notices to the union government and its departments in this regard.

Notices were issued to the ministry of home affairs and the national security advisor  seeking their response on a public interest litigation that sought public audit of intelligence agencies' accounts, including the National Technical Research Organisation.

A bench of the court headed by Chief Justice of India Altamas Kabir asked attorney general G E Vahanvati to assist it in deciding on the PIL filed by the Centre for Public Interest Litigation.

The petition by the NGO has sought directions from the court for Parliamentary oversight and financial auditing of RAW, IB and NTRO by the CAG, as is done in developed democracies.

The NGO has submitted in its plea that the agencies are being misused for political purposes and there is an urgent need to make these organisations accountable to Parliament.

On 1 February, well-known advocates Anil Divan and Prashant Bhushan appearing for the petitioner, submitted that India is the only democracy in the world whose intelligence agencies have no official status and are not accountable to the people or Parliament.

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

"Former heads of these organisations have published books on how the money is misused and how the agencies are used for political purposes," the petition says, adding that accounting is required as "more than Rs10,000 crore a year is granted to these agencies out of the consolidated fund of India".