The Union Cabinet is learnt to have approved a proposal to amend two laws to give more teeth to the NIA in probing terror cases in India and abroad, sources said Monday.
Separate bills will be introduced in Parliament in the coming days to amend the National Investigation Agency (NIA) Act and the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, they said. The amendments will also allow the NIA probe cybercrimes and cases of human trafficking, sources aware of the proposal said.
Amendment to Schedule 4 of the UAPA will allow the NIA to designate an individual suspected to have terror links as a terrorist. As of now, only organisations are designated as ‘terrorist organisations’. 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 considering the two laws to give more power to the NIA to meet fresh challenges, the sources pointed out. Another proposal to introduce a bill to extend the facility of proxy voting to overseas Indians could not be taken up Monday.
A similar bill had lapsed following the dissolution of the 16th Lok Sabha last month. “The agenda of the Law Ministry stands postponed,” a functionary said.
As of now, overseas Indians are free to cast their votes in constituencies they are registered. The Bill seeks to give them the option of proxy voting, which is as of now available to service personnel only.
Another proposal to amend the Representation of the People Act related to the spouses of service voters could not be taken up on Monday. As of now, an armyman’s wife is entitled to be enrolled as a service voter, but a woman army officer’s husband is not, according to the provisions in the electoral law.
The bill proposes to replace the term ‘wife’ with ‘spouse’, thus making the provision gender-neutral. Members of the armed forces, central armed police forces, personnel of state police forces posted outside their state and employees of the Centre posted outside India are eligible to be enrolled as service voters.