Bill on intelligence agencies reforms soon

July 29th, 2011 - 10:47 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, July 29 (IANS) The government will soon decide on the legislation that seeks parliamentary supervision of intelligence agencies for their better and efficient functioning, former home secretary G.K. Pillai said Friday.

Pillai said there is a “consensus at the official level in the government on the need” for the legislation that was introduced in the Lok Sabha by the Congress party’s Manish Tewari as a private member’s bill.

The former home secretary was speaking at a seminar on “Enabling Intelligence in India: Autonomy, Accountability and Oversight” at Observer Research Foundation, a Delhi-based public policy think tank .

“I am hopeful it will be done. I can assure you that your bill is not forgotten or put under the table. There may be some red-tapism. But it is being studied,” Pillai told Tewari, who was also present at the seminar.

The Intelligence Services (Powers and Regulation) Bill, 2011, seeks parliamentary supervision on three major intelligence agencies — Research and Analysis Wing (R&AW;), Intelligence Bureau (IB) and the National Technical Research Organisation (NTRO).

The draft bill broadly proposes a National Intelligence Tribunal for the investigation of complaints against these agencies, a parliamentary committee for an effective supervisory mechanism of these agencies, and an intelligence ombudsman for efficient functioning of the agencies.

The former home secretary said a committee of secretaries was looking into bill that also seeks a provision for the coordination among such agencies.

Pillai said the draft bill was under the consideration of the office of National Security Advisor (NSA) Shivshankar Menon.

“The winter session is the practical time frame with this session too overburdened with many important legislations like Lokpal, food security bill, etc.,” he said.

Pillai was of the view that the intelligence agencies have unlimited autonomy in terms of finance and that there was enough scope for improvement in the other areas.

Tewari said there was a need to create a supervisory mechanism outside government, but that should be comfortable enough to give comfort to the practitioners of the trade.

Allaying the fears of the intelligence community that parliamentary oversight mechanism might lead to misuse of intelligence inputs and put some handicap, the Congress spokesperson said intelligence agencies in the US worked efficiently in such Congressional oversight.

He also gave the examples of Russia, Germany and Japan where such mechanisms have not affected the functioning of the intelligence agencies.

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