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NCTC is constitutionally vulnerable, warns BJP

Source: PTI
May 06, 2012 22:26 IST
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Terming the National Counter Terrorism Centre as a "constitutionally vulnerable" instrument which went against the country's federal structure, the Bharatiya Janata Party on Sunday asked Prime Minister Manmohan Singh why the fight against terror through the Prevention Of Terrorism Act was "compromised" for vote-bank politics.

"When you talk of fighting against terror with a constitutionally vulnerable instrument, BJP puts forth some questions to you," said spokesperson Ravi Shankar.

Prasad asked the prime minister why POTA had been repealed and why the Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act was allowed in Maharashtra and its replica not permitted in Gujarat.

The BJP also raised objections to the United Progressive Alliance government fostering fresh ties with Pakistan despite its "failure" to act against Mumbai terror attack perpetrators who continued to roam freely in that country.

"Why was POTA repealed? POTA was an instrument that was needed by the security forces in the fight against terror. POTA has been declared to be constitutionally valid by the Supreme Court. Yet in your declaration you said we shall repeal POTA. The fight against terror was compromised at the altar of vote-bank politics," Prasad said.

He said the NCTC was a body created by an executive order under the overall control of the Intelligence Bureau; it had no Parliamentary accountability. "That is why this issue is very serious," he said.

Terming NCTC as an attack on the country's federal structure, Prasad said, "The BJP firmly believes that there is no contradiction between the fight against terror and the respect for the federal polity of our Constitutional democracy. Both can comfortably co-exist. The fight against terror would be fought purposefully only with cooperation, in coordination and active involvement of the state government and not by trampling upon their rights by the central government".

Prasad said the fight against terror was a national issue and the BJP would support the government on it as the party hoped the UPA government would bring about certain amendments considering the reservations of a majority of states on the NCTC.

He also said the party would raise the matter in Parliament if the NCTC comes into existence.

"There should be a concerted fight against terror and BJP will support the government on this. But this should not happen by violating the Constitutional propriety," Prasad said.

He said the BJP notes with "assurance" that at Saturday's meet on the NCTC, most of the chief ministers, rising above their political affiliations, highlighted the federal character of the country's Constitutional polity and expressed their reservations on NCTC.

He noted that NCTC was not formed by the law, but through an executive order and said no western country's intelligence agency had similar powers as had been proposed for the NCTC.

"All security agencies have parliamentary accountabilities. NCTC is one body which is being created by an executive order under the overall control of the Intelligence Bureau. That is why this issue is very serious," he said.

"The power of search, seizure and arrest -- the powers of the state police as per Constitution -- are being taken away. No western country has such powers given to its intelligence agencies, except in the case of Pakistan's ISI," he said.

Prasad also questioned the existence of MCOCA in Maharashtra and Gujarat not being allowed to enact a replica of the Act.

"MCOCA is fine in Maharashtra ... and exactly the same act, a replica of this act in Gujarat, you will not approve it. Upon the insistence of the government of India, the Gujarat assembly made some amendments, yet it is not allowed. How we can fight terror and organised crime when you have these standards," he questioned.

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