CMs express reservations over NCTC

New Delhi, June 5 (IANS) Chief ministers of parties not belonging to the ruling dispensation at the centre expressed strong reservations Wednesday over the proposed National Counter Terrorism Centre. Some Congress chief ministers too expressed concern.

Chief ministers said they feared the move would violate the principle of federalism. Some Congress-ruled states too shared this concern.

The NCTC is proposed as a federal anti-terror agency. The proposal for its setting up came in the wake of the Nov 26, 2008 terrorist strike in Mumbai.

Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi said: "On the NCTC, I think the new draft circulated has taken into consideration some of the concerns raised by the states. However, even on the new draft, some concerns remain. We have strong reservations about the proposed structure and functioning of the NCTC."

He said: "The proposed structure of the NCTC is not in congruence with the principles of federalism and the clear division of powers between the union and the states as envisaged under the constitution, as it essentially creates a federal police, a concept totally alien to our country."

Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar stuck to the apprehensions he had expressed on the NCTC last year.

"I had expressed serious apprehensions about the structure, powers and functions of the proposed NCTC. The draft order still suffers from several serious flaws," he said at the chief minister's meet on internal security here.

Tripura Chief Minister Manik Sarkar said: "The state government fully appreciates the need for an effective mechanism for sharing of intelligence by the centre and the states. However, the state government had expressed opposition to the manner in which the Ministry of Home Affairs had sought to set up the NCTC."

While some Congress chief ministers welcomed the proposed anti-terror agency, saying it was needed in the present context, they also sought clarity on the "operational efficacy" and "respective roles" of the centre and the state in case of joint operations.

"We support the NCTC as an important step in the right direction. The proposed draft requires further examination to understand the implications of these provisions on operational efficacy and clarity of respective roles in such joint operations," Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan said.

"There is a need to carefully calibrate the roles, responsibilities and powers of the proposed agency without adversely affecting the federal character of the constitution or undermining the powers of the state government in any way," said Meghalaya Chief Minister Mukul Sangma, while supporting the NCTC.

Agreeing about the relevance of "data- and intelligence-sharing and planning anti-terrorist activities", Karnataka Chief Minister K. Siddaramaiah said: "Some safeguards are necessary before setting up the NCTC so that they are not given unbridled powers to encroach upon the states' domain."

However, Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N. Kiran Kumar Reddy described NCTC as a "well planned initiative to counter terrorism."

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