Modi Government powers NIA in fight against terrorism, passes NIA (amendment) Bill 2019

On Monday, July 15, 2019, G Kishan Reddy, the Minister of State For Home Ministry introduced the NIA Bill in the Lok Sabha. NIA stands for National Investigation Agency and the present bill seeks to make a significant amendment to the concerned clause in the Legislature. As per the statement made by Reddy, the Chief Justice will continue to appoint special court judges who will carry out the trial process on a fast track. The minister added that the state governments need to set up special courts for tackling terrorism. He said, “We will continue to fight terrorism with zero tolerance.”

Objective of NIA Amendment bill 2019

The main objective of the NIA bill is to strengthen the powers of the National Investigation Agency to probe into terrorist attacks that target Indians and the Indian interests on foreign lands. While introducing the bill, the Union Minister also said the legislation will also permit the NIA to probe into cybercrimes and also the cases related to human trafficking. As per the statement of Kishan Reddy, the government is keen about strengthening the NIA Act and hence the bill follows. As per the clauses of the bill, the agency will be empowered to conduct the investigation in any part of the globe in case of any terrorist attacks happen targeting Indians or Indian interests.

History of National Investigation Agency

The NIA was set up for the first time in 2009 immediately following the grave incident of terrorist attack in Mumbai that took a toll on 166 precious lives. Reddy said while introducing the amendment that the NIA bill is doing so well and has succeeded in convictions in over 90% of the cases. The Act has so far registered 272 cases and for 52 of them, judgment was delivered already. The present amendment is called for during the time when terrorism is assuming international dimensions.

What the opposition says

Challenging the very existence of the NIA bill, Tiwari added, “The NIA Bill, in 2008, came under specific circumstances after the country felt some unprecedented incidents. The constitutional validity of the NIA Act is not settled as of now. The Bombay High Court had upheld the constitutional validity of the act. The Jammu and Kashmir Court has not yet given its approval. In November 2013, a division bench of Gauhati High Court had spoken of the ‘illegal organization.”

While opposing the bill, Congress MP Manish Tiwari commented that the founding fathers of India gave prime importance to civil liberties. A number of criminal laws were introduced by the British Government only to suppress the Indians. In several cases, the investigation agencies have been misused for political vendetta. While the NIA bill seeks to empower the probe body, it is also necessary to keep investigation and prosecution separately in order to ensure that the probes are done in a fair manner. Tiwari said the present bill seeks to turn the nation into a police state and if enacted, the ramifications of this legislature can extend far beyond its tenure.
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