Opposing the NCTC on practical, legal and constitutional grounds, Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal on Saturday sought a relook at the Constitution instead and suggested setting up of a new Constituent Assembly for the purpose.
Speaking at the meeting of chief ministers on the issue of National Counter Terrorism Centre (NCTC), Badal said, "A time has come to take a second look at the Constitution to bring it in tune with the changing realities and needs of the changing times."
"We have been advocating a restructuring of the Constitution to make it genuinely federal. I urge the Government of India to consider setting up of a new Constituency Assembly for this purpose," he said.
On NCTC, he said, "It is the latest example of Centre's assault on federalism and reminds one of the days of Emergency and we cannot accept it".
"It appears that the Centre has very systematically taken a series of decision to take away the powers of the states under one excuse or the other," the Punjab chief minister asserted.
Badal also said the fight against terrorism requires genuine national consensus and coordinating between the Centre and the states. "But by ignoring the states before setting up the NCTC, the Centre has actually created an atmosphere of mistrust and confrontation", he said.
Badal also sought to revisit and relook the Constitution. "The entire issue of Centre-State relations needs to be viewed in the context of the federal principle."
"First, they amended the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, then set up the National Investigation Agency (NIA) under which the Centre can take up the investigation in any case and now, under the NCTC they can directly carry out operations, search and arrests through any central force without the consent and the knowledge of the state government," he added.
Badal said the orders to set up the NCTC were taken "in haste" and the way the Centre has been taking away powers of states "creates a situation worse than the Emergency days".
Pointing out to constitutional issues, Badal said the Centre has "progressively encroached upon the rights of states, acquiring rights to legislate on items listed in States list or shifting these items to Concurrent List, and items from Concurrent List to Union List".
He said, "This is breaking the federal structure which is so necessary for a country full of religious, cultural and linguistic diversities," he said, adding that NCTC is the latest example of Centre's `assault' on federalism.
"We cannot accept it. Its provisions are a direct encroachment on the rights, authority and jurisdiction of the states. Law and order is a state subject and any attempt to dilute this would create serious constitutional problems and endanger the federal principle on which our entire structure is based...We totally reject the decision to set up NCTC in its present form," he said.
The Punjab CM urged the Centre to review and reverse this move on NCTC and hold fresh consultations with chief ministers of states who are the biggest stakeholders in the fight against militancy.
"The Centre and the states should sit together and re-examine the issues in entirety. If need be, amendments in Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act and enactment of NIA Act be revisited and contradictions smoothened out...," he said.