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HC: Make spy agency's audit public
April, 07th 2011

The country's top intelligence agency for providing technical inputs to thwart terror attacks will now have to place its internal audit before a parliamentary panel.

The Delhi high court on Wednesday asked the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) to act as per law and place a secret audit it did of the National Technical Research Organization (NTRO) before the Public Accounts Committee of the Parliament.

The NTRO functions under the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) and was dragged to HC by an ex-employee who alleged there was large-scale financial bungling in the agency.

On Wednesday, the PMO and NTRO placed their report before a division bench comprising Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justice Reva Khetrapal, saying that the NTRO had taken action against the errant officials responsible. The government said departmental proceedings have been initiated against the erring officers who committed alleged administrative and financial irregularities causing loss to the public exchequer in the functioning of the NTRO.

Appearing before the HC, additional solicitor general (ASG) Amarjit Singh Chandhiok filed a report in a sealed cover. The bench, after perusing the report, decided to dispose of the matter and returned it to the ASG on his request that it was confidential.

Earlier, the HC had taken serious note of the PIL filed by V K Mittal, a scientist, and demanded an action taken report from the government against the delinquent officers of NTRO, the agency which monitors external communication, imagery and cyber traffic.

The bench also asked the ASG to place on record all the files pertaining to the internal inquiry report of a one-member committee and also the report of the CAG.

Mittal, who voluntarily retired as officer on special duty from the NTRO, sought a direction to the government to submit the internal inquiry report with regard to the functioning of the organization and the alleged financial irregularities committed by its senior officials.

Referring to a media report, the petitioner said the CAG had found several financial, technical and administrative irregularities in the purchase of sensitive equipment worth Rs 750 crore.

Amit Kumar, counsel for the petitioner, claimed the CAG also found security lapses in laying down specifications for procurement. The audit has also noticed possible misuse of secret funds but these funds are out of its purview, he added.

The lawyer said his client sought information from the NTRO under the RTI Act but he was refused on the ground that the NTRO was exempt from providing any information under the law.

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