NIA (AMENDMENT) BILL, 2019 PASSED IN LS
What’s in news?
The NIA (Amendment) Bill, which will allow the NIA to probe cyber-crimes and cases of human trafficking, was passed with 278 members voting in its favour and six against it in lower house of the parliament.
- In a bid to give more power to the National Investigation Agency (NIA), Lok Sabha passed a bill to allow India’s anti-terror agency to investigate cases of terrorism targeting Indians as well as Indian assets abroad.
- This bill is an imperative for the Prime Minister Narendra Modi government’s policy of zero-tolerance against terrorism.
- The Bill, which amends the NIA Act, 2008, was first introduced by the Minister for Home Affairs, Amit Shah, on July 8, 2019.
- The Act provides for a national-level agency to investigate and prosecute offences listed in a schedule (scheduled offences).
- It also facilitates the creation of Special Courts for the trial of scheduled offences.
NIA (Amendment) Bill, 2019:
The following are the provisions of the bill;
Speedy investigation of the cases:
- To facilitate the speedy investigation and prosecution of Scheduled Offences, including those committed outside India against the Indian citizens or affecting the interest of India and to insert certain new offences in the Schedule to the Act as Scheduled Offences which adversely affect the national security.
Power outside India:
- Officers of the NIA will have the power to investigate scheduled offences committed outside India, subject to international treaties and domestic laws of other countries.
- The Bill will allow the NIA to investigate additional offences like human trafficking, offences related to counterfeit currency or bank notes, manufacture or sale of prohibited arms, cyber-terrorism, offences under the Explosive Substances Act, 1908. These scheduled offences are known as “Scheduled offences”.
Powers as like police officials:
- The officers of the NIA have the same powers as other police officers in relation to the investigation of such offences, across India.
- The central government may direct the NIA to investigate such scheduled cases, as if the offence has been committed in India. The Special Court in New Delhi will have jurisdiction over these cases.
Special court to investigate the cases:
- The Bill allows the central government to constitute Special Courts for the trial of scheduled offences. Also, the central government may designate Sessions Courts as Special Courts for the trial of scheduled offences.
- The central government is required to consult the Chief Justice of the High Court under which the Sessions Court is functioning, before designating it as a Special Court.
- When more than one Special Court has been designated for any area, the senior-most judge will distribute cases among the courts. Further, state governments may also designate Sessions Courts as Special Courts for the trial of scheduled offences.
National Investigation Agency (NIA):
- The NIA is a central agency, which was formed in the wake of the 26/11 Mumbai terror attack of 2008.
- According to its website, the agency functions as the Central Counter-Terrorism Law Enforcement Agency in India.
- The NIA has registered and investigated 244 cases till date. Under the current Act, the NIA can investigate offences under the Atomic Energy Act, 1962 and the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, 1967 (UAPA).