New Delhi, Feb. 11: The Supreme Court today sought a response from the Centre on a PIL highlighting how premier intelligence agencies “function without any statutory authority” in their roles that include phone tapping and other forms of surveillance.
Such intrusion infringes on the citizens’ fundamental right to liberty guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution, the PIL by Centre for Public Interest Litigation (CPIL) alleged, and named three agencies. These include the IB, RAW and the National Technical Research Organisation (NTRO), enlisted for tapping phones and electronic records of citizens and political leaders.
“The issue is of vital importance because the IB can tap any person’s telephone or monitor their movements. These agencies do not function under any statutory authority or act. They merely function under executive orders,” CPIL senior counsel Anil Divan told a bench of Chief Justice Altamas Kabir and Justices Anil Dave and Vikramjit Sen.
The judges issued notices to the Centre on the plea and sought a reply within six weeks.
Divan said unlike other departments whose finances were audited by the CAG, there was no such statutory audit of the “taxpayer money” allocated to, and spent by, the agencies.
“Intelligence officers travel in swanky cars but there is no scrutiny of their accounts,” Divan said.
The PIL urged the court to direct the Centre to devise a proper mechanism, following models in other democratic countries, so that the accountability of the agencies could be ensured.