Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Law Enforcement Technologies In India

Law enforcement plays a crucial role in maintaining law and order situation in a region. In India, the law enforcement responsibility is managed by numerous law enforcement agencies. Indian Constitution has demarcated law enforcement subject as a matter of State List. This means that a majority of law enforcement functions in various States are performed by respective State.

There are some functions that are closely related to law enforcement responsibilities and that require a unified approach. To take care of such issues, the Union Ministry of Home Affairs acts in a centralised manner.

The Union Home Ministry of India has prescribed many intelligence and law enforcement related projects that rely upon information and communication technology (ICT). These include projects like national intelligence grid (Natgrid), crime and criminal tracking network and systems (CCTNS), national counter terrorism centre (NCTC), etc.

All these efforts are praiseworthy and deserve public support. However, all of these projects are suffering from a common constitutional problem. None of these projects are governed by any constitutionally sound legal framework. These projects must maintain a balance between civil liberties and national security requirements. This balance is presently missing and these projects are operating with great disregard to constitutional rights and freedoms and human rights.

Similarly, we have no constitutionally sound legal framework for law enforcement and intelligence agencies of India. Parliamentary oversight of intelligence and law enforcement agencies of India is missing. After all intelligence gathering is not above right to privacy in all circumstances.

Take the example of the central bureau of investigation (CBI) and intelligence agencies like intelligence bureau (IB) of India. The Indian government is not willing to bring transparency and accountability regarding law enforcement and intelligence agencies of India.

The recent private bill titled intelligence services (powers and regulation) bill, 2011 was shelved out by none other than the Indian Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh who announced that law on intelligence agencies would be formulated soon. However, it proved nothing but a “time gaining tactics” and so far intelligence agencies of India are not governed by any legal framework and parliamentary oversight. Interestingly, even the central bureau of investigation (CBI) is riding the same boat. The draft central bureau of investigation act, 2010 is another example where the Indian government is just interested in making “declaration” with no actual “intention” to implement the same. It is high time to show political will to tackle these crucial and controversial issues as they cannot be ignored any more.

In our subsequent posts, we would cover the techno legal aspects of intelligence and law enforcement agencies of India.