Centre backs off,NCTC is put on hold

Anti-terror body was scheduled to start functioning March 1; will now wait for DGPs’ meet.

Written by Express News Service | New Delhi | Published:February 27, 2012 9:52 pm

Under fire from non-Congress chief ministers for allegedly undermining the federal structure of the constitution while deciding to set up the National Counter-Terrorism Centre (NCTC),the central government is learnt to have decided to put off indefinitely the operationalisation of the body.

The NCTC was scheduled to start functioning from March 1. Any concrete action will now be taken only after the centre convenes a meeting of the police chiefs of all states here on March 10.

The appointment of the director and three joint directors of the NCTC has also been put on hold.

Sources said the union home ministry intends to discuss the scope and functions of the NCTC at the March 10 meeting of the DGPs. Doubts raised by state governments over the powers and functions of the body would also be clarified at the meeting.

The central government’s decision to operationlise the NCTC on March 1 had drawn protests from non-Congress states,who were joined by UPA ally Mamata Banerjee. The chief ministers complained to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh that the centre was being set up without consulting the states,which was not acceptable.

In a letter to chief ministers of 10 states Union Home Minister P Chiambaram said last week that a meeting of the heads of police and anti-terror bodies in states would be convened to “discuss in detail the scope and functions of the NCTC”.

Allaying the apprehensions of the chief ministers,who have asserted that empowering NCTC with Section 43 (A) of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act would infringe on the powers of states,Chidambaram said in his letter that the powers conferred under Section 43(A) must be read with the duties under Section 43 (B) to produce the person or article without unnecessary delay before the nearest police station (which will be under the state government). The concerned station house officer would then take further action in accordance with the provisions of the CrPC.

He also told the chief ministers that these were “bare minimum powers” that would be necessary for counter-terrorism operations.

Earlier,Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had written to Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal,clarifying that the proposed body would not in any way infringe on the powers of the states.

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