Joining the growing chorus against the Centre's plan to set up a National Counter-Terrorism Centre, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Monday asked Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to “suitably” modify the proposal to address the genuine concerns voiced by various States.
Eleven State Chief Ministers have so far written to Dr. Singh opposing the plan to institute the agency, which is expected to be operational from March 1.
In a strongly worded letter, Mr. Kumar termed the entire process “flawed,” chiefly because the agency would come under the Intelligence Bureau, which is not accountable to Parliament.
Investing the agency with arbitrary powers to seek any amount of information — including documents, reports and transcripts — from State government agencies was a matter of concern, he said, pointing to the use of arbitrary powers during the Emergency and arguing the plan amounted to an attack on the country's federal structure.
Arguing that the State police had been providing the Central government agencies with valuable operational support on a case-to-case basis, he said the order “did not specify” the kind of assistance expected from the civil authorities.
Mr. Kumar also questioned the need for creating such new centres with provisions to “arbitrarily trample upon the existing constitutional safeguards” designed to protect the balance of power between the Centre and the States.
It was an established principle not to confer draconian powers, including powers to arrest, on intelligence agencies, since they tended to misuse them.