The National Intelligence Grid (Natgrid) Project of India is a very ambitious and much needed initiative provided it is adopted and executed in a legal and constitutional manner. The Natgrid project would be legal and constitutional if the same is supported by a constitutionally sound law.
However, Indian government is not very much interested in enacting suitable laws that can reconcile the civil liberty and national security requirements in India. For instance, the unique identification authority of India (UIDAI) is running the unconstitutional Aadhar project even at the cost of civil liberties, constitutional rights and public money. Similarly, the central monitoring system of India has been implemented with great disregard to civil liberties and without any legal framework.
Now the Indian government is once again committing the same old blunder. As per the Economic Times, the home ministry will soon issue an executive order to give a legal framework to Natgrid. This would grant 11 security agencies real-time access to 21 citizen databases to track terror activities. There are serious civil liberties issues involved in such a preposition and such an executive order would not be free from illegalities.
The need for such a executive order has dawned upon the government as the various ministries and departments, called as the “provider agencies” that hold the 21 citizen databases like bank account details, telephone records, passport data and vehicle registration details, will need a “legal mandate” to link and share their databases in real-time through the Natgrid with the various intelligence and investigative agencies, termed as “user agencies”.
But this is hardly a method that can be termed as constitutional and it would be definitely challenged in Indian courts.