NEW DELHI, May 4 (IANS): Hoping for a degree of consensus on the National Counter Terrorism Centre (NCTC), the central government has agreed to dilute some of its discretionary powers to push through the proposed anti-terror hub that has been put on hold after objections from several states.
In a last bid effort, the central government will meet state chief ministers here Saturday to bridge the gaps and set the anti-terror agency rolling.
Sources in the home ministry, which is organising the crucial meeting of chief ministers with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, said they expected the discussions to break through the current impasse.
Sources said the government had already circulated a note to chief ministers saying it had decided to have state police chiefs as ex-officio members of the standing council of the NCTC.
"We hope the issue would be resolved. We have proposed that the NCTC will operate through state anti-terrorism bodies and will have state police (chiefs) in its council," a senior home ministry official told IANS.
The government note lays down a a six-point standard operating procedure (SOP) according to which the power to arrest, search and seize will be shared with heads of the anti-terrorism squads of states.
The heads of state anti-terror bodies would be designated authorities of the NCTC at state levels.
"In all (terror) cases, the head of the NCTC will keep the DGP or head of the ATS of the concerned state informed of any operation in advance," the official said, citing new SOPs.
In case giving advance information becomes impossible due to "some limitations", the police or its anti-terror squad will be informed immediately after the operation, he said.
"The arrested person or materials seized will be handed over as soon as possible to the nearest police station with a written statement on the case."
The government had in January cleared the NCTC - a pet project of Home Minister P. Chidambaram - which will piece together terror related information from across the country.
It is proposed that the agency that draws its powers from the Unlawful (Prevention) Activities Act (UAPA) would also investigate terror threats and act on them.
But at least 15 chief ministers raised an alarm about the "unbridled" powers to the agency that give it the authority to search, seize and arrest anywhere in the county. The opponents said it would cut into the state's policing domain and threaten the federal structure of the country.