Intelligence Agencies Of India Need Parliamentary Oversight

PRAVEEN-DALAL-MANAGING-PARTNER-OF-PERRY4LAW-CEO-PTLBLaw enforcement and intelligence agencies of India are operating in a manner that cannot be considered to be legal and Constitutional in nature. The truth is that intelligence infrastructure of India needs transparency and strengthening. Privacy rights in India in the information age are blatantly violated that also with the aid of unconstitutional laws. Surprisingly India has no e-surveillance policy in effect and illegal e-surveillance projects like NETRA and Central Monitoring System (CMS) are openly operating in India with great disregard to our “Constitutional Norms”.

Firstly, there is an urgent need to repeal draconian laws like Telegraph Law and Indian Cyber Law. Secondly, there is a dire need to formulate dedicated telephone tapping law of India as soon as possible. Unfortunately, Indian Government is not serious about formulating a dedicated privacy law for India. Data protection and privacy rights in India are in real bad shape.

There is no second opinion that a lawful interception law is urgently needed in India. There have been some efforts in this direction in the form of a privacy law for India. It has been proposed that illegal phone tapping in India may attract Rs 2 crore penalties in future. However, before this provision becomes a part of any future law, the intelligence agencies of India have already expressed their apprehensions and reservations in this regard. Intelligence agencies of India are also demanding legal immunity against cyber deterrent acts without any transparency and accountability.

It is also true that the intelligence agencies of India are also not subject to Parliamentary Oversight that is need of the hour. This is more so when even the Right to Information Act, 2005 is not applicable to intelligence agencies and many law enforcement agencies of India. India “must reconcile” the civil liberties and national security requirements but the same is presently missing.

India’s own Projects like Aadhar, National Intelligence Grid (NATGRID), Crime and Criminal Tracking Network and Systems (CCTNS), National Counter Terrorism Centre (NCTC), Central Monitoring System (CMS), Centre for Communication Security Research and Monitoring (CCSRM), Internet Spy System Network And Traffic Analysis System (NETRA) of India, etc are violative of civil liberties protection in cyberspace. None of them are governed by any legal framework and none of them are under Parliamentary scrutiny.

If this is not enough, phone tapping in India can be performed as a “Purely Executive Act” without any “Procedural Safeguards”, including the absence of a “Judicial Scrutiny”. India is one of the few Nations where phone tapping can be done without a “Court Warrant” at the “Executive Level” itself.  The digital life of Indian citizens is not at all safe and is open to various forms of e-surveillance and eavesdropping. In the absence of support form Indian Government, self defence is the only viable option left before Indian citizens to safeguard their digital lives.

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