Seeking to give more teeth to the National Investigation Agency (NIA), Lok Sabha on Monday passed a bill to allow it to probe terrorist acts against Indians and Indian interests abroad reported.
Refuting the Opposition's claims of "misuse" of the NIA law, Home Minister Amit Shah on Monday asserted that the Narendra Modi government will never abuse it to target anyone but will ensure that terrorism is finished off irrespective of the religion of the accused.
In an intervention during the discussion on National Investigation Agency (Amendment) Bill, 2019, Shah said Parliament should speak in one voice in giving powers to the NIA to send out a message to terrorists and the world
What is the National Investigation Agency (Amendment) Bill?
The bill amends the National Investigation Agency (NIA) Act, 2008. PRS Legislative Research Agency notes that the bill provides power to the NIA to prosecute offences listed in a schedule (scheduled offences). It also facilitates the creation of special courts for trial of scheduled offences.
The bill provides for a national-level agency to investigate and prosecute offences listed in a schedule (scheduled offences). Further, it allows for the creation of special courts for the trial of scheduled offences.
The amendments will allow the NIA to probe cyber-crimes and cases of human trafficking.
The NIA was set up in 2009 in the wake of the Mumbai terror attack that had claimed 166 lives. Since 2017, the Union Ministry of Home Affairs has been pushing for giving more power to the NIA to meet fresh challenges.
What are Scheduled Offences?
The schedule to the Act specifies for the NIA, a list of offences which are to be investigated. These include offences under Acts such as the Atomic Energy Act, 1962, and the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, 1967.
The bill will allow the NIA to investigate the following offences: (i) human trafficking, (ii) offences related to counterfeit currency or bank notes, (iii) manufacture or sale of prohibited arms, (iv) cyber-terrorism, and (v) offences under the Explosive Substances Act, 1908.
What is the jurisdiction of the NIA?
The amendment provides for the creation of the NIA to investigate and prosecute offences specified in the schedule. NIA officers have the same powers as other police officers in relation to the investigation of such offences in India, noted PRS.
The bill states that the NIA will also have the power to investigate scheduled offences committed outside India, subject to international treaties and domestic laws of other countries. The special court in New Delhi will have jurisdiction over cases being investigated by the NIA in India.
What are special courts?
The bill allows the Central government to constitute Special Courts for the trial of scheduled offences. It also notes that the Central government may designate sessions courts as special courts for the trial of scheduled offences.
The high court under which the sessions court is functioning needs to be consulted by the Central government, before designating it as a special court.
The senior-most judge will distribute cases among the courts when more than one special court has been designated for any area. State governments can also designate sessions courts as special sourts for the trial of scheduled offences.
With inputs from PTI
Updated Date: Jul 15, 2019 18:18:44 IST