A decade old demand to give teeth and bring out sanctity in the National Technical Research Organisation under National Security Advisor, Ajit Doval has finally seen the light of the day. The NTRO will now have powers similar to the Intelligence Bureau and the Research and Analysis Wing.
The May 15 notification of the Union Home Ministry listed NTRO under the Intelligence Organisations (Restriction of Rights) Act, 1985. Sudhir Saxena, joint secretary, internal security, Home Ministry, said: "In the Schedule to the Intelligence Organisations (Restriction of Rights) Act, 1985, after serial number 3 and the entries relating thereto, the following shall be inserted namely: "The National Technical Research Organisation.
Sanctity and accountability:
It was in 1985 that the act was first passed in Parliament. This was done to ensure that the intelligence officials do not leak out information and embarrass the government. The act prevents employees of a notified agency from forming unions/associations, bars them from communicating with the press or publishing a book or other document without permission of the head of the intelligence organisation.
While explaining what this would mean, senior officials in New Delhi explained to OneIndia that the new notification would mean that there are norms of conduct that would be applicable to NTRO officers. This would not give the NTRO any powers to intercept. However it would ensure that there are strict norms of conduct in place, the officer also explained.
Both the IB and the R&AW have been opposing the inclusion of anyother organisation into the list of monitoring agencies under the act. The NTRO which was set up after the Kargil war has been demanding that it be given powers to monitor phones. However the home ministry declined permission.
"The Official Secrets Act is already applicable to NTRO employees, though many are from the private sector. We have restrictions about getting involved in political activities in the country, among other things, we only make external intrusions," an NTRO official said.