For the first time since Independecne, the parliament will witness a bill that attempts to regulate the way intelligence agencies of the country function. The Intelligence Services (powers and regulation) Bill will be introduced in the parliament as a private member's bill by Congress MP Manish Tewari. The bill has already been circulated but could not be introduced as the Lok Sabha was adjourned sine die on Friday. It is likely to be introduced in the next session.
It's an effort to set right a constitutional tangle that has always raised questions about the legal framework or the lack of it for the functioning of country's intelligence agencies. The 7th schedule of the Constitution provides for the establishment of a ‘Central Intelligence Bureau' by an act of the parliament. But that never happened.
Intelligence Bureau (IB) was created during the British Raj. The Research and Analysis Wing (R&AW) and the National Technical Research Organisation (NTRO) were established through an executive order of the government. In most of the developed democracies around the world, the intelligence agencies function under a parliamentary oversight to check their misuse apart from providing a legal framework for their working. The legal framework protects the intelligence officials as it clearly defines go or no-go areas for them.
There have been persistent allegations of misuse of the IB resources for political intelligence gathering. The sparks of factionalism were witnessed in the recent change of guard in the R&AW. The private member's bill tries to provide mechanism to deal with all these issues.
The bill intends to bring the IB, R&AW and NTRO under the parliamentary oversight and says that these agencies will not take any action that furthers the interests of any political party. Recently there was huge controversy when allegation were leveled that NTRO's listening devices were recording conversations of political leaders.
The bill states that the chiefs of these intelligence organisations will not be eligible for reappointment to any post except as an advisor to the government.