New Delhi, Feb 27: The NCTC, which is facing stiff opposition from non-Congress Chief Ministers, will not be operationalised on March 1 as scheduled and the anti-terror body may take its shape only after a meeting of the police chiefs of all states likely to be held here on March 10.
The appointments of the Director and three joint Directors of National Counter Terrorism Centre have also been put on hold after Home Minister P Chidambaram wrote a letter to 10 Chief Ministers where he had assured that the “next steps” on NCTC will be taken only after the meeting of DGPs.
Union Home Secretary will invite Chief Secretaries and Home Commissioners of all states along with the DGPs and heads of anti-terror organisations for a meeting, possibly on March 10, to “discuss in detail the scope and functions of the NCTC”, Home Ministry sources said.
As counting of Assembly elections in five states will be held on March 6 and Holi will be celebrated on March 8, the much awaited meeting got delayed.
In his letter, the Home Minister had sought to allay the apprehensions of the Chief Ministers who said empowering NCTC with Section 43 (A) of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act would infringe on the state's powers. Section 43(A) of UA(P)A gives an officer power to arrest and search.
Chidambaram said the powers conferred under Section 43(A) of the UA(P) Act must be read with the duty under Section 43 (B) to produce the person or article without unnecessary delay before the nearest police station (which will be under the state government), and the SHO of the police station will take further action in accordance with the provisions of the CrPC.
The Home Minister told the Chief Ministers that these are “bare minimum powers” that would be necessary when engaged in counter terrorism operations.
The Chief Ministers had complained that the anti-terror body will hurt the country's federal structure and infringe on powers of the state government.
Chidambaram made it clear to them that countering terrorism is a shared responsibility and the intention of the Central government was to continue to work with the state governments in order to meet the challenge of terrorism and for this purpose the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) was amended in 2004 and 2008 through joint efforts.
In the note, the Home Minister said that a body mandated to deal with counter terrorism must have, in certain circumstances, an operational capability which is true of all counter terrorism bodies in the world.
The Chief Ministers had complained to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh that the NCTC was going to be set up without any consultation with the state governments and this was not acceptable to them.
Those who had complained include Chief Ministers of Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, Bihar, West Bengal, Odisha, Himachal Pradesh, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh and Tripura.