Govt climbs down,brings state DGPs,police into NCTC grid

Under new SOP,state ATSs will be designated authority of NCTC; DGPs in NCTC council.

Written by Chitleen K Sethi | Chandigarh | Published: May 3, 2012 1:27 am

In an attempt to address the resentment of almost a dozen non-Congress states over the working of the proposed National Counter Terrorism Centre (NCTC),the union home ministry has included directors-general of police (DGPs) of all states as ex-officio members of the standing council of the NCTC.

And laid down a six-point standard operating procedure (SOP) for the operations division of the NCTC under which the NCTC’s power to arrest,search and seize will be shared with heads of the anti-terrorism squads (ATS) of the states,who would be the designated authorities of the NCTC at the state level.

The ministry has further assured the states that “in normal course,arrest/search/seizure shall be carried out by the ATS or other police units of the state concerned”.

These proposals form part of the agenda for the meeting of chief ministers on May 5.

Several non-Congress CMs including Mamata Banerjee — whose Trinamool Congress is the leading ally of the UPA coalition at the Centre — have argued that NCTC undermines the federal structure. And that since law and order is a state subject,NCTC should not be armed with umbrella powers to search,seize and arrest anyone from the states.

The revised SOP,while underlining the states’ role,also says that “in circumstances where immediate action is required on an intelligence input,” NCTC officers may invoke powers under Section 43 of the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act and effect the arrest or the search or the seizure. “In every such case the action shall be authorised by the director NCTC,” states the SOP.

“In all such cases the director NCTC shall as far as possible endeavor to keep the DGP or head of the ATS of the state concerned informed of the operation in advance. Where it is not possible to give advance intimation,the DGP/ATS shall be informed immediately after the operation.”

“The NCTC team would hand over,as soon as is possible,the arrested person/seized material to the nearest police station together with a written statement giving the details of the case,” says the SOP list.

Some of the objecting states including Jammu and Kashmir had however made it clear that they will not accept any suo motu action by the NCTC’s operations wing without “prior” permission from the state police.

Union Home Minister P Chidambaram had,in a written reply to states,pointed out that powers available to an officer under Section 43 of the UA(P) Act is available with both the Central and the state government. This point has now been added to the SOP which states that the state ATS would be the designated authority to carry out its counter-terror operations under the aegis of the NCTC.

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