Why drag the Air Force into political debate?
The Congress Spokespersons are criticising the Chief of the Indian Air Force for having stated that the Air Force urgently needs the Rafale to improve its combat ability. It is the Indian Air Force and its Chief who are the most competent persons to comment on it. The Air Force was involved in the selection of Rafale when UPA was in power, as also when the NDA is in power. The aircraft with its weaponry is needed to maintain the combat ability of our forces. Having shortlisted, both in terms of its potential and costing, Rafale as the most appropriate aircraft with weaponry in 2012, the Congress leaders’ comments against it now lack credibility.
Additionally, by targeting the Chief of a Service in a political debate, the Congress Party has broken a long-standing unwritten rule of Indian politics. We keep our forces out of political discourse. Our military is a professional one and subject to a civilian authority. Unlike our western neighbour, it is non-political and non-partisan. We owe it to our armed forces the gratitude of having successfully defended this nation. After having ruled this country for decades, the grand old Party needs to mature.
No Snooping – It is National Security
Since morning an ill-informed campaign that Government has allowed snooping on computers and is violating the Right of Privacy has been carried out. The Congress Party has got into the habit of speaking out first and understanding the issue only subsequently.
The Information Technology Act has been in existence for almost two decades. Section 69 of the IT Act authorises a Central or a State Government in the interest of sovereignty, integrity and defence of India, security of State etc. (The Article 19(2) Conditions as mentioned in the Constitution) to direct a notified agency to intercept or monitor or decrypt an information stored in a computer resource. This provision is similar to the power contained in the Telegraph Act in relation to telephones. The UPA Government had laid down a detailed procedure for this in the Information Technology (Procedure and Safeguards for Interception, Monitoring and Decryption of Information) Rules, 2009. Rule 4 authorises the competent authority to name the agencies which can undertake this exercise. There are safeguards, as prescribed by the Supreme Court, which are included in the rules. An interception or monitoring is only authorised under an specific approval of the Home Secretary. It can only be in cases which deal with the purposes mentioned in Section 69 of the Act. These are restrictions on which free speech can be curtailed under Article 19(2) of the Constitution. These rules have been framed in 2009 by the UPA Government. The rules required authorised agencies to be notified. In the absence of this authorisation, any police officer may start exercising the power. In fact, during UPA-II in a detailed debate in Parliament relating to a corporate lobbyist, the then Home Minister Shri P. Chidambaram strongly defended this power of interception being given to taxation authorities.
But the Congress talks first and thinks later. There is no general snooping order. The power to intercept in the interest of national security and public order already exists in law. This is only an order as to who are the authorised agencies. It is only in cases mentioned in Section 69 of the IT Act. The power existed and was used during the UPA Government also. How else will terrorists who use technology extensively be traced? Otherwise, the terrorists will use IT, but the intelligence and investigative agencies will be crippled.