Making a strong pitch for formation of an anti-terror hub, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Saturday said the establishment of NCTC is not a State versus Centre issue but will work as a vehicle of country's combined efforts to curb terrorism.
Stressing that NCTC will supplement the counter-terrorism capabilities of the states and not supplant them, Singh asked the state governments to work with the Centre in dealing with terrorism.
"Terrorism is today one of the most potent threats to our national security. There can be no disagreement on putting an effective counter terrorism regime with efficient mechanism and response systems both at the national level and at the state level," the Prime Minister said in his inaugural speech at a conference of chief ministers called to discuss NCTC.
The meeting was called specially after 12 chief ministers opposed formation of NCTC.
Singh said, "Establishment of NCTC is not a state versus Centre issue and the primary purpose behind setting up the NCTC is to coordinate counter-terrorism efforts throughout the country as the Intelligence Bureau has been doing so far.
"The NCTC should be a vehicle of our combined efforts to reach the shared goal of curbing terrorism an eradicating militancy," he said.
Singh said the antecedents of the NCTC derived from the Group of Ministers and the Administrative Reforms Commission, commencing from the lessons learnt in Kargil.
"It is our belief that the NCTC, in its designs and its operation aspects, will supplement the counter-terrorism capabilities of the states and not supplant them," he said.
He also drew attention of chief ministers towards the Standard operating Procedures circulated by Union home ministry and said the draft reflects the details provisions for Centre-State coordination in both the organisational set up of NCTC and in its proposed powers and functions.
"But for the NCTC to function smoothly and effectively, it is important that we have a fairly broad consensus on its powers and functions. We would like the state governments to be with us in this initiative, which we believe would strengthen our counter-terrorism efforts," Singh said, adding the Centre was open to suggestions of chief ministers.
Advocating formation of NCTC at the meeting, the Prime Minister said the NCTC mechanism will give each state agency an ability to see the bigger picture of terrorist threats and thus would enhance their counter terrorism capability and access to resources.
Allaying fears of some of the chief ministers about disturbing the federal structure, the Prime Minister stressed that the government's intention was in no way to affect the distribution of powers between the states and the Union that the Constitution provides.
He said terrorism was today one of the most potent threats to the national security. "There can be no disagreement on putting in place an effective counter terrorism regime with efficient mechanisms and response systems both at the national level and at the State level.
"Neither the states nor the Centre can fulfil this task alone. The closest cooperation and coordination is, therefore, necessary to meet the threats that emanate from within and outside our borders," the Prime Minister said.
He said it was the "responsibility of the Centre to give form and shape to a cohesive national approach and strategy based on information gathered globally and from all the states of our Union.
"On their part, the states should use their expertise, knowledge and machinery to secure their own territories and work in coordination with the Centre and other States," the Prime Minister said.
Singh said while since Mumbai attacks in November 2008, there has been much close coordination between state and central agencies which resulted in noteworthy successes, however, much remains to be done.
"On the whole there is broad agreement on the strategy and measures that we must adopt to counter terrorism in all its multifarious dimensions in India, including cross-border terrorism, Left wing extremism, terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir, insurgency in the North-East and religion based terrorism," he said.
Earlier this week, the home minister had said the draft of the two SOPs for operating the NCTC were circulated to the states and they would allay many apprehensions of the chief ministers who have expressed their concerns.
The home ministry has sent the draft SOPs listing powers and functions of the anti-terror hub's Standing Council, which will have representatives of all state governments and the Centre.
Director Generals of Police or Chiefs of ATS of all states will be members of the Standing Council of the NCTC and before any anti-terror operation is conducted, the NCTC would take into confidence the concerned state's police officers.
The Centre also explained about the need for NCTC and various provisions of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, particularly 43(A) and 43(B) to be used by the NCTC.
These two sections have raised the hackles of some states.
The UA(P) Act's provision 43(A) empowers the police to arrest and search, while 43(B) says any officer arresting a person under section 43(A) shall inform him of the grounds for such arrest and every person arrested and articles seized under section 43(A) shall be forwarded without unnecessary delay to the officer in charge of the nearest police station.
The SOPs also mentioned about the exercise of power under section 3.1 and 3.2 of the office memorandum issued listing organisation, functions, powers and duties of NCTC.
Section 3.1 states the Director of NCTC shall be specified as the designated authority under section 2(e) of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967.
Section 3.2 says officers of the operations division of NCTC shall have the power to arrest and the power to search under section 43A of the UA(P)A.
The home ministry also circulated the agenda papers for the May 5 specially convened meeting where it would explain the genesis, objectives, structure and powers of the proposed NCTC.
The agenda papers say the Standing Council will meet as often as necessary and may also meet through video conference.
The Standing Council shall ensure that NCTC is the single and effective point of control and coordination of all counter terrorism measures.
(With inputs from PTI)