On Monday, the Lok Sabha passed the National Investigation Agency (Amendment) Bill, 2019 after a heated debate in the House. While the government assured that the Bill seeks to take tougher action against terrorism, the Opposition, including the Congress, called it an attempt to make India a police state.
The NIA was set up in 2009 in the wake of the Mumbai terror attack that had claimed 166 lives.
What are changes introduced in the NIA (Amendment) Bill?
According to PRS Legislative Research, there are three major amendments to the National Investigation Agency (NIA) Act of 2008.
The first change is the type of offences that the NIA can investigate and prosecute. Under the existing Act, the NIA can investigate offences under Acts such as the Atomic Energy Act, 1962, and the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, 1967.
According to PRS, the latest amendments will enable the NIA to additionally investigate offences related to human trafficking, counterfeit currency, manufacture or sale of prohibited arms, cyber-terrorism, and offences under the Explosive Substances Act, 1908.
The second change pertains to NIA’s jurisdiction. Under the Act, for the offences under its purview, NIA officers have the same power as other police officers and these extend across the country.
The Bill amends this to give NIA officers the power to investigate offences committed outside India. Of course, NIA’s jurisdiction will be subject to international treaties and domestic laws of other countries.
The third change relates to the special trials courts for the offences that come under NIA’s purview or the so-called “scheduled offences”. The existing Act allows the Centre to constitute special courts for NIA’s trials. But the Bill enables the Central government to designate sessions courts as special courts for such trials.