Political parties back Hamid Ansari’s accountability idea

Vice President Hamid Ansari’s suggestion to bring the country’s intelligence agencies under legislative oversight has been supported by most political parties though a few felt the idea needed to be discussed further.

Congress spokesman Manish Tewari said the vice president had raised a very pertinent governance issue.         

"There is a need to both legally empower and create a mechanism of oversight for our intelligence and law and order agencies. It is an idea whose time has come,” Tewari told IANS.        

Asked what should be done for parliamentary scrutiny of intelligence agencies, he said it was for the government to take a decision. “It is now for the government to make a determination as to how it intends to operationalise the thoughts of the vice president,” he said.        

Ansari had Tuesday made a case for greater oversight and accountability in the operations of the country’s intelligence agencies while delivering a lecture organised by the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) of the Cabinet Secretariat. He also suggested setting up a standing committee of parliament on intelligence in accordance with the norms of a democratic society.         

Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) vice president Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said the issue of parliamentary oversight of intelligence agencies should be discussed in parliament.         

“If there is transparency in working of intelligence agencies at a certain level, it is not a bad idea,” he said, adding that such transparency should not be in the public domain.         

The BJP leader said the suggestion for parliamentary scrutiny had not come from the government and it should be found out why the vice president felt the need to make the suggestion.        

Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) leader Basudeb Acharia said his party agreed with Ansari.        

“We are also of the same opinion. There should be parliamentary control and scrutiny of agencies like the Central Bureau of Investigation, RAW and Intelligence Bureau.”         

Acharia said there have been instances in the past where these agencies have been misused by the government.        

The Nationalist Congress Party, which is an ally of the Congress, also backed Ansari’s  suggestion.         

Party spokesman D.P. Tripathi said intelligence agencies should not be beyond democratic institutions. “These (intelligence agencies) should be (under) parliamentary scrutiny,” he said.        

–Indo-Asian News Service         

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