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The government has set an ambitious March 2017 deadline for networking the country's 15,000 police stations as part of the home ministry's Crime and Criminals Tracking Networking and Systems (CCTNS) project. Not only this, the Cabinet on Wednesday approved a major revamp of CCTNS involving its integration with e-courts, e-prisons, forensics and prosecution to ensure expeditious data transfer among various pillars of the criminal justice system.

Implementation of CCTNS, which was sanctioned in 2009 but has faced tardy implementation, will ensure that about 15,000 police stations and an additional 5,000 offices of supervisory police officers across the country are inter-connected and all data related to FIRs registered, investigated and charge-sheeted is digitized. This will create a national database of crimes and criminals in real time.

"In the immediate aftermath of what has happened in Paris and India's resolve to join the world community in a collective crusade against terror...I think we are one of the first nations to make an important announcement. We would fast track the CCTNS that has been going on in this country for quite some time," minister of state for PMO Jitendra Singh told a press briefing here.

Incidentally, the March 2017 deadline may not be difficult to achieve given that more than 11,600 police stations in the country are already entering 100% FIRs through CCTNS software, with more than 26 lakh such FIRs registered in the last one year alone.

A key benefit of the CCTNS project will be greater police-citizen interface through a central citizen services portal linked to various state portals. Among the services that can be accessed through this portal are police verification for purposes like issue/renewal of passport, online reporting of cyber-crimes and tracking of FIRs and case progress.

Reacting to the development, former Union home minister P Chidambaram said, "Thank god, government found merit in CCTNS. Will the funds be given now to complete the project?"

In another message, he said, "Will government also find merit in NCTC, especially post Paris, and will it immediately annnounce its constitution?"

Importantly, the CCTNS portal will display a list of sex offenders, proclaimed offenders and most-wanted criminals, helping not only the law enforcement agencies in tracking them but also alerting the citizens. The central portal will also be linked to various e-governance projects like Aadhaar, National Population Register, Vaahan project of the surface transport ministry, the National Emergency Response System project and various policing mobile applications including facial recognition etc.

The Rs 2,000-crore CCTNS project has already seen disbursal of Rs 878 crore to the implementation agencies. The balance will be released as the project implementation is completed, and also cover the operation and maintenance phase that will extend to March 2022.

The CCTNS was not allocated any money in the 2015-16 budget, leading a disappointed home ministry to write to the finance ministry to review its stand given how crucial the project was to the government's 'Digital India' plan. Though finance ministry was initially reluctant, an intervention by the PMO a couple of months back served as a lifeline for CCTNS.

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Quelle/Source: The Times of India, 19.11.2015

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