The Union Law Ministry is of the view that the Centre need not waste time chasing the elusive political consensus on setting up a federal agency to counter, prevent and investigate cases of terrorism.
If accepted, this perception could mark a paradigm shift in the Centre's approach to the issue repeatedly debated without any success in the inter-state council — the platform to thrash out differences on subjects with a bearing on Centre-State relations.
Successive Central governments have struggled to set-up a central agency to deal with terror attacks since 2000 because of strong opposition from the state governments.
All states, barring Punjab, Orissa and Himachal Pradesh, have stated that such an agency would be an infringement on their jurisdiction, Home Ministry told a parliamentary panel recently.
Law and Order is a state subject under the existing Constitutional scheme. The Centre can overcome this obstacle — without intruding into the domain of the States — by declaring terrorism as a threat to national security. That would fetch it powers to carry out anti-terror operations across the country within the existing legal framework.
“There is no need for a new agency to fight terror. The Centre has the powers to declare terrorism as a central offence like narcotics and money laundering,” a Law Ministry official told HT.
Even Parliamentary committee chairman, EM Sudarsana Natchiappan said terror could be listed as a central crime by the Centre, and did not require parliamentary sanction.
“The central government by a notification can empower the CBI to investigate a terror crime directly. To prevent such attacks which threaten the security of the nation, the CBI should be envisaged as an enforcement agency with a mandate to ensure prevention of attacks also,” Natchiappan said.