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Federal agency at centre of debate at CMs’ meet

india Updated: Jan 07, 2009 00:24 IST
HT Political Bureau

Recently set up National Investigation Agency (NIA) and amendments to the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, the Code of Criminal Procedure remained a source of debate during the Chief Ministers’ Conference on Internal Security on Tuesday. There were several dissenting notes, primarily from the NDA-ruled states.

Though the BJP had backed the NIA Act and other stringent anti-terror laws, Chief Ministers of NDA-ruled states — including Bihar CM, Nitish Kumar, Gujarat CM, Narendra Modi and Madhya Pradesh CM, Shivraj Singh Chouhan — expressed doubts over the new federal agency and amendments to criminal laws without consultations with states.

Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar demanded that the NIA seek prior consent from state governments before taking on cases not relating to terror. Constitution of yet another statutory authority, he said, could end up in duplicity among various agencies.

Gujarat Chief Minister Narender Modi said the very setting up of the agency was contrary to federal spirit and an attempt at “sidetracking” states in the fight against terror.

By evening, however, the Prime Minister said he had taken note of “concerns” expressed by various CMs. He said his government would examine how to harmonise the amendments to the CrPC with the provisions and intent of the NIA and UAPA amendments.

“In case the harmonisation of other important provisions of law regarding prevention of atrocities on minorities and weaker sections, and the maintenance of law and order are required, this should also be done quickly. We would be ready with our response before the next session of Parliament,” Singh said in his concluding remarks.

In his address to the CMs, the Home Minister made it clear that states would have to establish a clear chain of command to act on intelligence inputs and to react to terror situations.

“The buck stops at the Chief Minister's table,” he told reporters and added “at the centre, it stops at the minister's table…at the Prime Minister's table,” making it clear that the Centre was not shrugging off its share of the

Meanwhile, the Home Minister told reporters after the conference that he had “offered to write a detailed letter in the next few days to all CMs explaining the full scope and content of these laws.” “I have already promised Parliament that if necessary we will revisit the matter in February,” he added.