New Delhi: BJP leader Arun Jaitley Monday said his party was not opposed to the setting up of the National Counter Terrorism Centre (NCTC) but it was against giving police powers to the proposed anti-terror hub.
In an article posted on the party's website, Jaitley said powers and jurisdiction of NCTC must be within the constitutional framework and fight against terrorism must co-exist with federalism.
Accusing the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government of adopting "soft approach on terror", he said it had repealed Prevention of Terrorism Act (POTA) while India faces jihadi domestic modules and Pakistan foments trouble through state and non-state actors.
Responding to Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde's remarks that the central government was trying to break the deadlock over NCTC, Jaitley said it was proposed to be set up under the Intelligence Bureau and intelligence agencies should not get police powers.
"There could be no possible objection to a National Counter Terrorism Centre but its powers and jurisdictions must be within the constitutional framework... The NCTC is proposed to be set up under the Intelligence Bureau. Its director will report to the director of IB. Intelligence agencies should not get into police powers," he said.
Jaitley, who is leader of opposition in Rajya Sabha, said the UPA government has already been empowered in dealing with terror cases through the National Investigative Agency (NIA) which investigates offences under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.
"The establishment of an adequate collection and transmission mechanism is understandable. Why does the central government need to give police powers to the NCTC which would otherwise be under the domain of NIA or the state police?"
Justifying opposition from some states to NCTC, Jaitley said a similar institution in the US deals with only strategic planning and did not have operational involvement.
"The Indian proposal is to have an agency which will have intelligence functions and would also conduct operations. It is this power being vested in an intelligence agency to the detriment of the law and order powers of the state which the state governments are rightly objecting to."
He said public order and police fall within the domain of the states and they should be trusted in fight against terror, adding the NCTC can coordinate its activities with the state police.
"The fight against terrorism can and must co-exist with federalism. It would be meaningless to debate an imaginary 'federalism versus terrorism' issue," he said, calling it dangerous to vest powers of search, seizure and arrest to an intelligence agency.
Calling for concerted approach against terror, Jaitley said Congress had opposed POTA but was compelled to to include most provisions of the repealed law in the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.
Shinde Monday said in Kolkata that the the central government was trying to break the deadlock over the proposed anti-terror hub and claimed that West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had a positive view on NCTC.
The proposal to set up NCTC was put on hold after some states protested against its implementation, saying it would encroach on their powers.