Seven CMs resent anti-terror centre

Seven CMs resent anti-terror centre

Mamata, three BJP-ruled states hit out against powers of intelligence unit

The UPA government on Friday found itself having to deal with a fresh problem from its ally Trinamool Congress and its chief Mamata Banerjee who, along with six other non-Congress chief ministers, opposing the Centre for setting up the National Counter Terrorism Centre (NCTC).

Along with her, the chief ministers of Odisha, Tamil Nadu, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh have opposed the anti-terror organisation, saying it infringed on the rights of the states. Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, who was the first to voice his opinion against the NCTC, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalitha and Madhya Pradesh’s Shivraj Singh Chauhan have written to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, saying the state governments “will not tolerate” the Centre’s “authoritarian” and “draconian” order on the powers and functioning of the NCTC.

As the Congress said the UPA was open for talks on the issue, Union Home Secretary R K Singh appeared unfazed as he said the NCTC “is in the national interest and there is no need to consult the states prior to notification of the NCTC as it was being established under the existing laws.”

Some of the main issues which the non-Congress CMs are opposing, among others, include: Operations Division of the NCTC has the power to arrest under Section 4 (3-A) of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967; the director of the NCTC, specified as designated authority under Section 2(e) of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967 and his officers can conduct search without prior consultation with the concerned state governments; and Para 5.1 of the order requires all authorities, including functionaries of state governments to provide information, documents and reports to the NCTC.

It was on February 3 that the Union Home Ministry empowered the newly constituted NCTC under the Intelligence Bureau and reporting to the Home Ministry. It is supposed to be the repository of all real time intelligence that will be disseminated to other agencies.

It has the mandate to coordinate anti-terror plans in a proactive manner and to form smaller units in states for coordination.

In her letter to the prime minister, Banerjee, who has become a thorn in the flesh of the UPA government she supports as she has already opposed other issues like the Lokpal Bill, foreign direct investment in multi-brand retail, the Food Security Bill and price rise, asked him to "review and withdraw" the order on organisation, function, power and duties of the NCTC. The letter, written on February 14, said: "It is difficult for the state government to accept such arbitrary exercise of power by the Central government/Central agency, which have a bearing on the rights and privileges  of the states as enshrined in the Constitution of India."

The West Bengal chief minister, who is known to fight for rights of the states, said, “in a federal structure, any decision of the Central government, which infringe upon the powers and rights of the state governments should be taken only after adequate consultation and with the consent of the state governments.

“This has not been done in the instant case," she said, adding that the present order did not require that the NCTC would discharge its functions in coordination and consultation with the state police or the state government.

"The order, therefore, appears to be an infringement on the powers of state governments in matters of investigation and maintenance of order," she said in the letter.
It was Patnaik, who initiated an organised attack on the Centre as he shot off the first letter on February 13 to the prime minister and followed it by communicating the same to the friendly chief ministers. As Banerjee joined issue, it gained prominence and the chief ministers of BJP-ruled states such as Madhya Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh and Gujarat joined the chorus.