Terming as "unilateral and hasty" the proposal to set up the National Counter-Terrorism Centre, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Monday asked the prime minister to re-examine the issue and ensure the order is suitably modified to take care of states' genuine concerns.
In a letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Kumar said, "The new order defining the functions and powers of NCTC has to come into force with effect from March 1, 2012 and we are aware that chief ministers of several states have also written to you against the unilateral and hasty decision of MHA to create NCTC without consulting the state governments.
"Won't you agree with the suggestion that the government of India must re-examine the whole issue and ensure that the order is suitably modified to take care of the states' genuine concerns," Kumar said.
In his letter, Kumar said, "We have come to know about the creation of NCTC vide Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) O.M. dated February 3, 2012 which inter alia, contains provisions giving powers of arrest and search to officials of the operations division of the NCTC."
"Also the NCTC has been given the power to seek information, including documents, reports, transcripts and information of any kind from any agency which seems to include the state government also," he said.
Kumar said, "The order issued by the MHA makes it mandatory for all civil authorities in the territory of India to act in aid of the NCTC and here too it has not been specified as to what sort of assistance will be required to be given by civil authorities, including those under the administrative control of states to NCTC."
"Thus it has been left fully to the absolute and arbitrary discretion of NCTC authorities to make demands from the state governments and press for their immediate fulfilment.
"While creation of a strong mechanism to counter terrorism at the national level is the need of the hour, would it not be better to consult the state governments and take their views which would contribute to improved design and structure of the new establishment," he said.
"Will you not agree that foundations of Indian polity are based on sound federalism with well-demarcated powers and functions of the democratically elected state governments vis-a-vis the Centre," he said, adding "don't you think that since police and law and order are state subjects any action involving arrest, search and seizure should be taken only with active involvement of the state police, he said.
Kumar said "in fact, the state police have been providing valuable operational support to Central agencies in such matters on a case to case basis and there has been any instance when a state government has been found wanting in taking action against the perpetrators of the crime."
"Where is the need then to create new centres like NCTC with provisions which arbitrarily trample upon the existing constitutional safeguards to protect the highly delicate balance of power between the Centre and the states," he said.
The chief minister said creation of NCTC is highly flawed in as much as it has been very surprisingly created within the Intelligence Bureau which is a secret intelligence organisation without any accountability to Parliament regarding its work.
"Is it not an established principle that secret intelligence agencies are never given the powers of arrest and not even the British, during their rule over India, gave the powers of arrest and search to the IB," Kumar said.
"None of the post-independence Indian governments have done so till date and why then such powers are sought to be given to intelligence agencies which will remain prone to misuse," he said.
The chief minister said you are aware that eminent political leaders were branded as threats to national security and put behind bars during the Emergency of 1975-77.
The new order defining the functions and powers etc of NCTC has to come into force with effect from March 1, 2012 but it has been opposed by Chief Ministers of several states, Kumar contended.