New Delhi, Feb 27: The Supreme Court recently ruled that Intelligence agencies cannot be accountable to the CAG.
The Supreme Court's order was in the right direction and an audit control of the CAG cannot be accepted since these agencies work secretly to further national security says V Balachandran former Special Secretary, Cabinet Secretariat.
Balachandran tells OneIndia that first and foremost, our intelligence agencies need legal protection for doing their security-related work covertly by using unconventional methods.
Our successive governments want them to undertake "bold" covert operations yet they do not offer them basic legal protection beyond what is available for any government official from, say animal husbandry or irrigation department.
Balachandran asks do we need a law to regulate the intelligence agencies? Yes - here I would prefer to use the word "empower" rather than "regulate". A legal basis for any arm of the government would clearly define its charter, responsibilities as well as its accountability.
What should be done is try preventing abuses by rogue elements among intelligence agencies who misuse secret channels for partisan considerations, which is detrimental to national security.
The removal of the intelligence function from the National Police (RCMP) in Canada, first recommended by the MacKenzie Commission in 1968 was finally made effective only in 1981 when the McDonald Commission highlighted the RCMP abuses in intelligence gathering. It resulted in creating a statutory civilian agency in 1985.
South Africa passed their Intelligence Services Act in 1994 when they set up new intelligence services after the end of the Apartheid regime while Australia, which created their ASIS (Australian Secret Intelligence Service) through an executive order in 1952, chose to give it a legal basis in 2001 by Intelligence Services Act 2001.
Although USA had codified CIA's work in 1947, the Nixon era's abuses resulted in their Congress wresting decisive control from the executive over their intelligence agencies. The British services were pressurised to pass laws in 1989 and 1994 due to staff betrayals, and also pressure from European Conventions to subject even security organisations to operate within the legal framework.