In a move to help break the deadlock over the National Counter Terrorism Centre (NCTC), the Centre on Monday promised to “suitably address” concerns about the intelligence agency’s powers to carry out searches and arrests at a meeting of chief secretaries and police chiefs.
After spending a larger part of the day listening to several states complain about the language and the content of the home ministry order creating the NCTC, home secretary RK Singh indicated their concerns would be taken into account when the operating rules for the NCTC are finalised.
But government officials made it clear that they did not expect Monday's meeting to put the NCTC back on track.
“A general refrain at the meeting was that the NCTC should only have powers to arrest in joint operations, not stand-alone operations,” a police officer said.
The order of setting up the NCTC was frozen last month after chief ministers of many states wrote to the PM complaining that its powers to search, seize and arrest suspects ran foul of the federal structure."It is only an ice-breaker… to prepare the ground for the one to be attended by chief ministers," one of them said.
The home ministry said there was general agreement that a body such as the NCTC was needed to fight terror.
But at the same time, the home ministry spokesperson said, there were demands to specify circumstances in which NCTC officials could make arrests and help states upgrade its policing capacities.
Several chief secretaries also asked the home ministry to expand the powers of the NCTC standing council, a body that has state representatives on board. With the exception of Karnataka, all state representatives echoed the stated positions of their governments; the opposition-ruled states were critical, the Congress-ruled states were largely supportive.