Chief minister Nitish Kumar on Monday asked the Prime Minister to re-examine the decision to set up the National Counter-Terrorism Centre (NCTC) under the Intelligence Bureau and ensure that it was suitably modified keeping in view the states’ genuine concerns.
The union ministry of home affairs (MHA) on February 3 had ordered creation of NCTC with powers of arrest and search to officials of the operations division of the Centre. The NCTC will have powers to seek information, including documents, reports, transcripts and information of any kind from any agency which seems to include the state government also. The new order has to come into force with effect from March 1, 2012.
In a letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, he said that creation of NCTC was ‘highly flawed’ as it has been created within the Intelligence Bureau, which is a secret intelligence organization without any accountability to Parliament regarding its work.
Kumar recalled that eminent political leaders were branded as threats to national security and put behind bars during the emergency of 1975-77. “Is not the established fact that secret intelligence agencies are never given the powers of arrest? Not even the British, during their rule over India, gave the powers of arrest and search operations to IB. None of the post-independence governments have done so till date. Why then, such powers are sought to be given to intelligence agencies which will remain prone to misuse?” Kumar said.
He said that the move was an attempt to encroach upon the rights of the state governments in a federal structure. “Does the Centre consider the state governments as irresponsible? Has any state government been found wanting in taking action against perpetrators of such crime? Since ‘police’ and ‘law and order’ are state subjects, any action involving arrests, search and seizure should be taken only with the active involvement of the state police,” Kumar said.
Kumar said that there was no need to create new centres like NCTC with provisions that arbitrarily trample upon the existing constitutional safeguards to protect the highly delicate balance of power between the Centre and the states. “Chief Ministers of several states including UPA allies, left and NDA have also written against the unilateral and hasty decision of MHA. I have talked to West Bengal CM Mamata Bannerjee in this regard. The centre should re-examine it and suitably modify it,” he said.