What is the CCTNS project, and how was it conceived?
The UPA government launched the Crime and Criminal Tracking Network and Systems (CCTNS) project in 2009 in the aftermath of the 26/11 attacks, with the aim of establishing seamless connectivity among 15,000 police stations across the country, and an additional 5,000 offices of supervisory police officers. The brainchild of former Home Minister P Chidambaram, CCTNS entailed digitisation of data related to FIRs registered, cases investigated, and chargesheets filed in all police stations, in order to develop a national database of crime and criminals. It was envisaged as a system to facilitate collection, storage, retrieval, analysis, transfer and sharing of data and information at the police station, between a police station and another police station or district HQ or state HQ, and between the police of one state and another state or the central government, including IB, CBI and the Central Police Organisations.
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Why was this system needed?
According to Chidambaram, the police of any state barely “talked” among themselves, or with the police of other states. Each police station was an island, where records were maintained manually. The National Crime Records Bureau and State Crime Records Bureaus were initial steps towards storage, sharing and accessing data, but the process was technologically primitive and cumbersome, Chidambaram felt. A seamless, technology-driven network in which any police station could “talk” to another police station in real time, was needed, he felt.
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How has the CCTNS project progressed?
The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs approved the project on June 19, 2009, with an allocation of Rs 2,000 crore. The initial deadline for setting it up was 2012, which was revised to March 2015. Rs 37.23 crore were given for the project in the 2012-13 Budget, and Rs 120 crore in the following year. In the 2014-15 and 2015-16 Budgets, however, no funds were allocated for CCTNS.
On Wednesday, the Union Cabinet decided to revamp and fast-track the project, and complete its implementation by March 2017. A decision was also taken to implement the Integrated Criminal Justice System (ICJS) by integrating CCTNS with e-courts, e-prisons, forensics and prosecution in order to transfer data among the various pillars of the criminal justice system.
Of the Rs 2,000 crore outlay, Rs 878 crore has been released to implementing agencies. The outlay includes operation and maintenance up to March 2022.
Over 11,600 police stations countrywide are now using the CCTNS software to register FIRs. More than 26 lakh FIRs were registered through CCTNS over the past year.
How will citizens benefit from CCTNS?
Full implementation of the project will lead to the creation of a central citizen portal with links to state-level citizen portals. This will take several citizen-friendly services online — such as police verification for purposes including passports, reporting a crime, tracking the progress of a case, reporting of grievances against police officials, access to victim compensation fund, and legal services. A list of proclaimed offenders, sex offenders and most wanted criminals will also be published on the citizen portal.
Investigating officers across the country will be able to access the crime and criminals database, and the police will get alerts, dashboards and other CCTNS features through mobile applications. National-level crime analytics will be published at an increased frequency, and police station staff will be able to directly search for information in other national databases such as UIDAI, NPR and the Transport database.
What is the difference between CCTNS and NATGRID?
The thrust behind the National Intelligence Grid or NATGRID, another project conceived by Chidambaram in the wake of 26/11, was to bolster India’s counter-terrorism capabilities. The project entails combining 21 sensitive databases relating to domains such as banks, credit cards, cellphone usage, immigration records, motor vehicle registrations, Income-Tax records and NCRB into a single database for access by authorised officers from 10 central agencies such as RAW, IB, CBI, DRI and ED. It is essentially a data transfer tool that hopes to give investigators a 360 degree profile of a suspect.
How does the NATGRID project stand?
It had been languishing for several years, but received a fresh thrust some months ago with the government roping in the National Informatics Centre to create a state-of-the-art networking system for the project. In August, the South Delhi Municipal Corporation approved allotment of a 10-acre plot at Andheria Mor for NATGRID. The project is in the hands of Ashok Prasad, Special Secretary (Internal Security) in the MHA.