Saturday, Oct 01, 2022
Outlook.com
intel agencies: funds misuse

Spooky Money

Hundreds of crores, collars turned up, vanishing down the lane

Spooky Money
Illustration by Sorit
Spooky Money
outlookindia.com
-0001-11-30T00:00:00+05:53

No Passwords

  • Guidelines for intelligence operatives were framed by the Union government in the Financial Power Rules, 1958.
  • Although accounting is informal, an officer is supposed to be held liable for every little expenditure he authorises.
  • A register has to be maintained with the date and amount of each bill, even if it is something intangible, like paying an informer.
  • A controlling officer audits all operations and funds annually and submits a certificate to the accountant general by August 31.
  • However, the fund cannot be scrutinised by any auditing authority, including the CAG.

***

Everything around seems infected by the corruption curse, so it doesn’t come as too much of a surprise. It almost seems too good to be true—secret service funds (SSF) running into hundreds of crores, cloak-and-dagger operations, no questions asked, no audit reports required. It’s one of the many privileges our intelligence agencies are entitled to. But what happens when funds from the SSF are used for personal, and not national, interest? An ongoing RTI tussle to reveal details about one such instance from the National Technical Research Organisation (NTRO) has met with stiff resistance—all in the guise of protecting “security interests”. An embarrassed PMO, to which the NTRO reports directly, has washed its hands of the query and passed it on to the organisation, which in turn claimed last month that it was exempt from the RTI.

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