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India Table of Contents


Intelligence Services

The first post-independence military intelligence service was the Intelligence Bureau established in 1947 under the aegis of the Ministry of Home Affairs. Until 1962 the Intelligence Bureau had wide-ranging responsibilities for the collection, collation, and assessment of both domestic and foreign intelligence. The failure of the Intelligence Bureau to assess adequately the nature of the Chinese threat, however, led to a reevaluation of its role and functions in the early 1960s. Military Intelligence, which in the words of one retired Indian general was "little more than a post office," was reactivated and given the task of reporting to the revamped Joint Intelligence Committee. The Joint Intelligence Committee is the key body coordinating and assessing intelligence brought to it by the Intelligence Bureau, Military Intelligence, and the Research and Analysis Wing of the Office of the Prime Minister. Established in 1968, the Research and Analysis Wing is primarily responsible for gathering external intelligence. Despite a substantial budget and extensive foreign postings, the wing's efforts to gather intelligence even in South Asia are inadequate according to some foreign analysts (see Role of the Prime Minister, ch. 9).

Each of the armed services has a directorate charged with the collection and dissemination of intelligence. Critics have charged that there is inadequate cooperation and coordination among the service intelligence directorates, the Intelligence Bureau, and the Research and Analysis Wing. There is, however, an interservice Joint Cipher Bureau, which is in charge of cryptology and signals intelligence. The Research and Analysis Wing includes officers from the armed services and also has a chief military intelligence adviser.

Military Justice

The Manual of Military Law and Regulations spells out rules and procedures for the investigation, prosecution, and punishment of military offenses and crimes in the armed forces. Basic authority rests in the constitution, the Army Act of 1954, the Air Force Act of 1950, and the Navy Act of 1957.

The army and air force have three kinds of courts. They are, in descending order of power, the General Court, which conducts general courts-martial; the District Court; and the Summary General Court. Additionally, the army has a fourth kind of court, the Summary Court. Local commanding officers conduct this court with powers similar to nonjudicial punishment in the United States armed forces. The navy uses general courts-martial in addition to the nonjudicial powers established for commanders in the Navy Act.

Courts-martial can be convened by the prime minister, minister of defence, chief of staff of the service concerned, or other officers so designated by the ministry or the chief of staff. There are channels of appeal and stages of judicial review, although procedures differ among the three services.

Members of the armed forces remain subject concurrently to both civilian and military law, and criminal courts with appropriate jurisdictions assume priority over military courts in specific cases. With the approval of the government, a person convicted or acquitted by a court-martial can undergo retrial by a criminal court for the same offense and on the same evidence. Once tried by a civilian court, however, one cannot be tried by a military court for the same offense.

Each of the three services has its own judge advocate general's department, relatively free and independent of the other branches in the discharge of its judicial functions. The various departments have officers among the adjutant general's staff at army headquarters, in the chief of personnel's staff at navy headquarters, and in the administration staff of the air force headquarters.

Data as of September 1995