The National Investigation Agency (NIA): Establishment and Functions
About the National Investigating Agency (NIA)
NIA was constituted under the NIA Act, 2008 as the aftermath of the Mumbai Terror attack of 2008. There are 649 employees in the agency and this agency comes under the Ministry of Home Affairs.
The National Investigation Agency (NIA) acts as the Central Counter-Terrorism Law Enforcement Agency. The agency is authorised to investigate any terror-related matter across the country without special permission of the states.
Headquarter and Regional Branches of NIA:-
The headquarter of NIA is in New Delhi but it has 8 other regional offices across the country.
Features of NIA Amendment Bill
The union cabinet not only changed the NIA act 2008 but also changed the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967 on Jul 15, 2019, and Rajya Sabha Passed it on 17th July 2019.
Amendment to Schedule 4 of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act will allow the NIA to declare an individual suspected to have terror links as a terrorist.
Currently, only organisations are designated as 'terrorist organisations' but after the change in the UAPA an individual can also be termed as a suspect.
So the change in the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967 is the apple of discord between the political parties.
There are 3 major changes done in the original NIA Act, 2008
1. The first change in NIA Act 2008: Expand the offenses that fall within its ambit
Current powers of NIA are to investigate cases related to the Atomic Energy Act, 1962, and the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, 1967. but
Now the Original NIA act 2008 is changed and the ambit of the NIA increased to investigate matters related to
1. Human trafficking
2. Counterfeit currency
3. Manufacture or sale of prohibited arms
4. Cyber- Terrorism
5. Offenses under the Explosive Substances Act, 1908
2. The second change in NIA Act, 2008: Expansion in the jurisdiction of the NIA
As per the current act, the NIA officers have the same power as other police officers and these powers extend across the country. But
The NIA amendment bill 2019 has increased the jurisdiction of the NIA officers and entitled them to investigate offenses committed outside India also.
Although NIA’s jurisdiction will be subject to international treaties and domestic laws of other countries.
3.The third change in NIA Act, 2008: Session Court to Special Court
The third change relates to the special trial courts for the offenses that come under NIA’s purview or the so-called “scheduled offenses”.
As per the existing NIA act 2008; the Act allows the Centre to constitute special courts for NIA’s trials. But
The NIA amendment Act 2019; the Central Government and the State Governments can designate Sessions Courts as Special Courts to conduct trials under the Act. Although this will be done in consultation with the Chief Justices of the High Courts of the respective State.
It is worth to mention that the conviction rate was already very high in the NIA.
Shri Shah said in Lok Sabha that, as on 30.06.19, out of 272 cases registered, charge sheets have been filed in 199 cases; prosecution is over in 51 cases and convictions have been achieved in 46 cases.
Main functions of NIA are;
1. To Study and analyse laws related to terrorism in other countries and regularly evaluate the efficacy of existing laws in India and propose changes when seems necessary.
2. To investigate terror-related cases or to make a strategy to combat terrorism.
So it is expected that the amendments in the NIA Act, 2008 would increase the efficiency of the NIA which is the need of the hour to protect the sovereignty, security, integrity of India.
Although the opposition parties are opposing the amendments in the NIA act 2008 and UAPA,1967; they have expressed their concerns that this bill will also be misused like the POTA.