Saturday, June 16, 2012

Natgrid Project Of India: The Do Or Die Stage

The National Intelligence Grid (Natgrid) Project of India is one of the most ambitious Projects of India. It has been passing through rough weathers in the past. The good news is that the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) has approved an Rs 1,100-crore allocation for the NATGRID and has also granted an extension to it. The CCS has also allowed NATGRID to acquire certain technological items mentioned in the Detailed Project Report (DPR).

The bad news is that till now we have no Accountability and Transparency about the NATGRID Project. Another major lacuna of NATGRID Project is that it is beyond the reach of Parliamentary Oversight in India. Similar problems are also plaguing the National Counter Terrorism Centre of India.

Recently the Department of Telecommunication (DOT) refused to allow the Home Ministry of India to intercept private communications disregarding individual Privacy under the pretext of National Security. Civil Liberties Issues have been raised from time to time in India vis-à-vis National Security Projects like NATGRID. They cannot be ignored in India any more.

I hope these “Shortcomings” of the NATGRID Project and NCTC would be removed very soon and NATGRID Project and NCTC would be a valuable tool for strengthening National Security of India. I also hope that Indian Government would maintain a “Balance” between National Security and Privacy Protection requirements in India while implementing Projects like NATGRID.

Now coming back to the recent new lease of life that has been given to NATGRID by CCS. The funds granted to NATGRID would be utilised for procuring equipment, technology and for building a data centre. We need to have High Security Infrastructure and Secured Communication Lines, opined NATGRID Chief Raghu Raman.

I also believe that this “Technological Upgradation” is a must for NATGRID Project to successfully complete the next stage. However, this is not an easy task especially keeping in mind the Red Tape that is hindering the successful implementation of NATGRID Project of India.

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.