Chief Secretary and DGP meet on NCTC

New Delhi: Seeking to end the logjam on National Counter Terrorism Centre (NCTC), the Home Ministry has convened a meeting of top police and civil officers of all states on March 9 to allay apprehensions of the counter-terror body usurping their powers.

Union Home Secretary R K Singh has invited the Chief Secretaries, Directors General of Police and Home Commissioners/Secretaries of all states to discuss in detail the scope and functions of the NCTC, official sources said here today.

In the wake of strong protests by non-Congress Chief Ministers, the Centre has put on hold the operationalisation of NCTC from tomorrow and decided to discuss with the state governments before going ahead with the plan. In his letter to 10 Chief Ministers, Home Minister P Chidambaram had assured that the "next steps" on NCTC will be taken only after the meeting of the top officials of the states.

The Home Ministry officials are expected to allay the apprehensions of the states which said empowering NCTC with Section 43 (A) of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act would infringe on the state`s powers. Section 43(A) of UA(P)A gives an officer power to arrest and search.

Chidambaram said the powers conferred under Section 43(A) of the UA(P) Act must be read with the duty under Section 43 (B) to produce the person or article without unnecessary delay before the nearest police station (which will be under the state government), and the SHO of the police station will take further action in accordance with the provisions of the CrPC.

In his letter, Chidambaram told the Chief Ministers that these are "bare minimum powers" that would be necessary when engaged in counter terrorism operations.
The Chief Ministers had complained that the anti-terror body will hurt the country`s federal structure and infringe on powers of the state government.

Chidambaram made it clear to them that countering terrorism is a shared responsibility and the intention of the Central government was to continue to work with the state governments in order to meet the challenge of terrorism and for this purpose the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) was amended in 2004 and 2008 through joint efforts.

In an attached note, the Home Minister said that a body mandated to deal with counter terrorism must have, in certain circumstances, an operational capability which is true of all counter terrorism bodies in the world.

The Chief Ministers had raised objections with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, saying the states had not been consulted about the setting up of the NCTC and and made it clear that this was not acceptable to them. Those who had complained include Chief Ministers of Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, Bihar, West Bengal, Odisha, Himachal Pradesh, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh and Tripura.