The government assured Lok Sabha members on Monday that the new commission set up under Justice (retd) MM Punchhi to look into Centre-state relations would hold consultations with chief ministers and leaders of all states before framing recommendations on sweeping powers for the Centre, including sending its forces to states.
The Punchhi Commission’s recommendations would also be discussed in the inter-state councils before taking them up for final consideration, Home Minister Shivraj Patil told the House.
Several members expressed apprehensions about the Commission’s terms of reference saying these should be framed in consultation with states as they involved the subject of law and order.
The matter was raised during Zero Hour by CPI-M member V Radhakrishnan who questioned whether the government was within its right to appoint such a Commission without consulting the states.
The Commission’s brief includes examining the possibility of sending suo moto forces to states for investigations into inter-state crimes with a national bearing.
Citing the recent alleged fake encounters in Gujarat, RJD member Devendra Yadav, however, expressed the view that the Centre should have powers to intervene in states in such situations and where the minorities were under threat.
Without naming Gujarat, he said leaders in a particular state were targetting the minorities. Statements of fundamentalists were creating a fear psychosis among the 20 to 25 crore members of the minority community in the country, Yadav claimed. The Centre must intervene in any such situation where democracy was threatened, he stressed.
Patil sought to set at rest the apprehensions of members saying that the decision to constitute the Commission was taken after discussions among the UPA partners.
Pointing out that the Punchhi Commission was going to look into several issues different from the previous Sarkaria Commission, the Home Minister urged members not to comment on the issue without going through the terms of reference as this could create misunderstandings.