(Daily News Scan - DNS English) National Investigation Agency - NIA Amendment Bill 2019

(Daily News Scan - DNS English) National Investigation Agency - NIA Amendment Bill 2019

Important Points:

After a comprehensive discussion the NIA (Amendment) Bill 2019 was approved by Rajya Sabha. The bill assures to take tough actions against terrorism and setting up of NIA courts. Besides this the officers of NIA will get special powers and the NIA can extend its jurisdiction beyond Indian borders.

In this DNS we will know about NIA, reason for its formation and the provisions before and after the amendment in the bill.

The amendment in the bill will bring more powers to the NATIONAL INVESTIGATION AGENCY. The NIA amendment bill 2019 amends the NIA Act 2008. The new bill allows NIA to have power to investigate offences like – human trafficking, offences related to counterfeit currency and bank notes, manufacturing or sale of prohibited arms, cyber terrorism and offences under the Explosive Substances Act 1908. In addition to this the NIA Act allows the creation of special courts for trial of schedule offences. The scheduled offences Act comprises of Atomic Energy Act (AEA) 1962, and Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) 1967.

The present NIA Act allows central government to constitute special courts for scheduled offences but the new bill amends this stating that central government may depute session courts as special courts for trial of scheduled offences. Before taking this step the central government needs to consult chief justice of high court. The home minister assured that the agency will not be misused in any way by the government.

National Investigation Agency (NIA) is a central agency established by the Indian Government to tackle terror in India. The agency came into action with the sanction of National Investigation Agency Act 2008, after the Mumbai terror attack. This Act makes NIA the only federal agency in the country along the lines of FBI in United States. Federal agency is a special organization setup by the government for purposes like management of resources and national security issues.

A huge number of incidents have been noticed of inter-state and international linkages and possible connections in activities like smuggling of drugs and arms, circulation of fake Indian currency etc. Keeping all these in mind there was a need felt to setup an agency at the central level for investigation and offences related to terrorism and other activities. The agency is empowered to tackle with terror related crimes across states without special permissions from the states. NIA officers have same powers as the police officers extending outside the country too. The NIA gets more power than the CBI. The CBI has to seek permission from the state government before investigating a case. The NIA Act provides powers to NIA to enter any state without permission from its government and investigate regarding the terrorist issues.

It aims to discourage the existing terror groups or individuals. The NIA extends to whole of India including Jammu & Kashmir and applies to Indian citizens residing in other countries as well as to persons in government services, to ships and aircrafts registered in India wherever they may be. The new Act empowers the NIA to register cases if an Indian embassy faces any attack abroad, or Indian underwater cables of communication in international waters are destroyed. The outcome of these cases will totally depend on the diplomatic connections of India with the other country.

NIA has authority only to extend its investigation to cases mentioned in the Act’s schedule that deals with the security and integrity of the country meaning that the NIA cannot investigate murder or rape cases that come under the Indian Penal Code (IPC).

Regarding this bill there was a huge discussion and negative comments and questions raised in the Rajya Sabha. Among the topics of discussion was, this Act will turn India into a police state. The Indian courts already have a lot of pending cases and this act will bring on more burdens by adding cases through the NIA amendment. A suggestion was also given to provide a set of measures or provisions so that no misuse of powers is made after widening of the agencies power. Based on this the government assured that there will not be any misuse of powers and proposed amendments will empower the country to fight terror in India and similar activities involving Indian cities abroad.