Parliament passes bill to give NIA more powers, Opposition fears misuse

Since 2017, the Union Home Ministry has been pushing for giving more powers to the NIA -- that was set up in 2009 in the wake of the Mumbai terror attack -- to meet fresh challenges

Parliament passes bill to give NIA more powers, Opposition fears misuse

PTI

Parliament on Wednesday passed a bill giving more powers to the National Investigation Agency (NIA) to probe terrorist acts against Indians and Indian interests abroad amid Opposition’s reservation over the law that feared the NIA can be misused by the Centre and that it may encroach upon the states’ rights of policing.

The Bill amends NIA Act, 2008 that provides for a national-level agency to investigate and prosecute offences listed in the scheduled offences, was passed by Rajya Sabha with a voice vote.

Further, the Act allows for creation of Special Courts for the trial of scheduled offences.

The bill has been already passed by the Lok Sabha on July 15.

The NIA was set up in 2009 in the wake of the Mumbai terror attack that had claimed 166 lives. Since 2017, the Union Home Ministry has been pushing for giving more powers to the NIA to meet fresh challenges.

Defending the bill, the government refuted opposition's allegations of "misuse" of the NIA law to target members of a community, and stressed that people have given the mandate to the government to protect the country from terrorism.

In an intervention during the discussion on National Investigation Agency (Amendment) Bill, 2019, Shah said Parliament should speak in one voice to send out a message to terrorists and the world.

Home Minister Amit Shah asserting that the law will be used to finish off terrorism and not to target any community.

The amendments to the NIA Act will allow the agency to probe terrorist acts against Indians and Indian interests abroad, cybercrimes and cases of human trafficking.

Defending the bill, the government refuted opposition's allegations of "misuse" of the NIA law to target members of a community, and stressed that people have given the mandate to the government to protect the country from terrorism.

In an intervention during the discussion on National Investigation Agency (Amendment) Bill, 2019, Shah said Parliament should speak in one voice to send out a message to terrorists and the world.

The Oppostion members asked the Centre to ensure that states' right to policing remains intact and they should be allowed to assist National Investigation Agency (NIA) to probe terrorism cases.

Congress member Vivek Tankha said: "NIA is a policing agency...it is facing challenges and one day there may be a situation where NIA enactment would be struck down (by court)."

On states' right to investigate cases, he said, "Despite saving clause which says the power of the state (of policing) will not be compromised, the central government in exercise of its powers has been challenging the right of the state to assist in a case...taking away cases where they (states) are already investigating."

TMC leader Derek O'Brien echoed similar views and said, "Under section 6, state power is bypassed. The issue of federalism is a cause of concern. If human trafficking and cyber crimes goes in central list, then there is big chance of conflict.”

He further said,"Political rivals say you have the ally of CBI, ED and IT. So this (NIA) must not be another ally. The NIA should do its job and not become National Interference Agency."

On Pakistan's take on this amendment in the Act which allows NIA to investigate beyond international borders, he said,"Will Pakistan sign the treaty. Will Pakistan give us jurisdiction. How have we gone on Pakistan." In a lighter vein he said,"We went to have vegetable biryani on a birthday. We allowed five member investigation team to come to Pathankot. Then they went back and said all fault was yours. If we want to fight terror then we would have to address the Pakistan issue. What is the view of this government on Pakistan?"

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