SC refuses to dismiss PIL questioning power exercised by intelligence agencies
New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Tuesday said it cannot dismiss a pending PIL questioning legality of intelligence agencies exercising police powers in the absence of any law, by entertaining the plea of a person who wants to intervene.
“At the instance of an intervenor, we cannot dismiss a pending PIL by allowing an interim application,” a bench headed by Justice Dipak Misra said.
The court, in 2013, had issued notice to the Centre on a PIL of NGO Centre for Public Interest Litigation (CPIL) seeking the accountability of Intelligence Bureau (IB), Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) and National Technical Research Organisation (NTRO), as in other democratic countries such as the UK and the USA.
During the brief hearing on Tuesday, former RAW official and lawyer Nisha Priya Bhatia sought a hearing on her interim plea that the PIL be dismissed.
The court, which has now fixed the matter for final hearing in the last week of April, said it will not reject the pending PIL at the instance of a person who wants to intervene in the proceedings.
“Let the matter be listed for final disposal in the last week of April 2015 on a non-miscellaneous day. Pleadings shall be completed by that day from all spectrums,” the bench, which also comprised Justice Prafulla C Pant, said.
The PIL has alleged that intelligence agencies exercise police powers in the absence of any law made by Parliament to govern their functioning.
Earlier, the court was reluctant to entertain the plea, but later agreed to consider it after senior advocate Anil Diwan had pointed out the PIL raised several important questions of law.
The plea said the agencies, which were not backed by laws made by Parliament, have been be allowed to exercise powers like phone tapping.
It said that accountability of these agencies should be ensured because they had been “operating since their very inception under executive orders issued by the government without any parliamentary control or oversight”.
The PIL has said, “India is the only democracy in the world whose intelligence agencies have no legitimacy in the eyes of the law, and are not accountable to the people or Parliament.”
The NGO, in its plea, has pointed out that the security agencies in countries like the US, Canada and Australia were also constituted and governed by laws.
Pointing to alleged instances of misuse and corruption in the agencies, it said that the lack of accountability to Parliament or any other democratic institution had given rise to serious cases of misuse and corruption in these agencies.
It also said the government should be asked to come up with a mechanism to ensure accountability till the enactment of laws to govern their functioning.