National Counter Terrorism Centre (NCTC) Of India Must Be Constituted Urgently

PRAVEEN DALAL MANAGING PARTNER OF PERRY4LAW AND CEO OF PTLBEstablishment of the National Counter Terrorism Centre of India (NCTC) has been facing many problems and difficulties. These include administrative, political and technological problems that need to be addressed on a priority basis by the new Government. The obvious but unsolvable terrorism dilemma of India cannot be allowed to be continued any longer in the larger interest of India.

By its very nature and design any proposed NCTC shall be managed by intelligence and security agencies of India. India has plethora of intelligence agencies and security agencies. These include Research and Analysis Wing (RAW), Aviation Research Centre (ARC), Intelligence Bureau (IB), National Technical Research Organisation (NTRO) and Defence Intelligence Agency (DIA), etc.

However, the administrative and political structure governing these agencies is highly defective as they are operating in a decentralised manner. There is no centralised authority or Ministry that can coordinate or collaborate between different intelligence and security agencies. Further, there is no Parliamentary oversight of these intelligence agencies as well.

On top of it Civil Liberties and National Security requirements of India are not balanced at all. This would give rise to constitutional issues and create problems for such agencies in future. For instance, the immunity request of these agencies for engaging in cyber deterrent act cannot be accepted in these circumstances that would be an essential function of NCTC in future.

As Mr. Narendra Modi is committed to keep the internal security part of Home Ministry with himself, these issues can be easily managed. The proposed Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) would emerge as a “centralised national reforms point” of India. The approach regarding the proposed PMO is much required as that may be a game changer for India. It would also not be difficult to constitute the proposed NCTC in these circumstances as the centralised approach towards NCTC would eliminate interference of different Departments/Ministries. Mr. Modi can comfortably guide and supervise NCTC from the PMO.

However, NCTC must not be established in the manner proposed by the previous Government. The “safest and easiest method” to establish NCTC is to give a Parliamentary Scrutiny to intelligence agencies and their functioning. In the same legal framework, establishment and role of NCTC can be formulated.

The NCTC is very significant and essential for the National Security of India. Terrorist attacks against India are on increase and we need a “Specilaised Institution” like NCTC to provide and analyse valuable intelligence inputs and leads. The real problem seems to be “lack of coordination and harmonisation” between the Centre and States and the PMO must resolve this problem while establishing NCTC.

There are other related problems as well. For instance, the intelligence infrastructure of India is in big mess.  We need to develop intelligence gathering skills development in India so that effective intelligence can be generated, processed and used in real time. On the legislation front, a legal framework on the lines of Intelligence Services (Powers and Regulation) Bill, 2011 must be formulated and enacted by our Parliament. The National Intelligence Grid (Natgrid) Project of India has already been launched. However, a legal framework for Natgrid project of India is also needed as an unaccountable Natgrid is not a panacea for intelligence failures of India.

Surprisingly, the bureaucrats at Home Ministry have dropped the reference of NCTC altogether from their proposed report to Mr. Modi. They believe that NCTC is not a viable project and it need not to be part of the projects that have to be undertaken on a priority basis. It seems the bureaucrats are well aware of the previous dislike of Mr. Modi towards NCTC and they do not wish to offend him.

This is a highly unfortunate situation. No project should be dropped simply because Mr. Modi has disliked the same in the past. It is the constitutional duty of bureaucrats to suggest inclusion of projects of National Importance keeping aside their own biases, prejudices or fears. If they simply drop a worth project like NCTC on the basis that Mr. Modi disliked it in the past nothing is more embarrassing and unfortunate than such an approach. Even if Mr. Modi is averse to NCTC as on date, the bureaucrats must suggest the same. Of course, if there are some other issues, besides personal preferences or dislikes of Mr. Modi, they must be openly and frankly communicated to Mr. Modi and let him decide ultimately.

The things and circumstance have changed drastically and it is high time to analyse projects like NCTC as per contemporary standards and requirements. The present circumstances are in favour of constitution of NCTC and the same must be done as soon as possible.