Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Constitutionality Of NCTC Challenged Before Madras High Court

The constitutional validity of National Counter Terrorism Centre (Organisation, Functions, Powers and Duties) Order 2012 has been challenged before the Madras High Court. A public interest litigation petition (PIL) has been filed in the Madras High Court challenging the constitutional validity of the NCTC Order 2012.

This action is not only natural but was also very obvious. The constitutionality of the National Investigation Agency Act 2008 (NIAA 2008) has not been accepted by States and now NCTC has been launched through an NCTC Order 2012. This was too much for the States and they protested against this order before the Prime Minister of India.

Indian government is bypassing parliamentary oversight for almost all its projects and initiatives. For instance, the National Counter Terrorism Centre (NCTC) Project of India, National Intelligence Grid (Natgrid) Project of India, Aadhar Project of India, Crime and Criminal Tracking Network and System (CCTNS), etc are not governed by any legal framework and parliamentary oversight. Indian government must understand and accept that intelligence work is not an excuse for non accountability and violating constitutional safeguards and scheme.

The intelligence infrastructure of India has become synonymous for non accountability and mess. There is neither any parliamentary oversight nor and transparency and accountability of the working of intelligence agencies of India. The proposed law titled Intelligence Services (Powers and Regulation) Bill, 2011 for intelligence agencies was not made a law at all. Similarly, the Draft Central Bureau of Investigation Act, 2010 has also not seen the light of the say.

It is obvious that Indian government is not interested in bringing intelligence agencies and law enforcement agencies under the parliamentary scrutiny. Till date parliamentary oversight of parliamentary agencies of India is missing. Indian government cannot for long tag these projects and agencies with existing laws and agencies as that is a very bad policy decision.

If this is not enough, Google censored NCTC news and blog posts in India that pointed towards these constitutional infirmities and lacunas. This is not the first time Google has done so. Even in the past Google has censored critical posts against Indian government and its projects. Clearly there is a nexus between critical posts pertaining to NCTC, intelligence agencies and censorship by Google in India.

The ruling government cannot for long silence Indian citizens and political parties for long. This is now evident with the filing of PIL before the Madras High Court. The petitioner prayed the Court to call for the records and quash the impugned NCTC Order 2012 as ultra vires the Constitution. With the present attitude of ruling government, more such petitions can be expected in the near future, including the one that can challenge the constitutional validity of NIAA 2008.