This article is based on the amendments, have been made on the NIA Act, 2008 to bring changes in the security Sector against terror attacks for the Country.
The National Investigation Agency amendment Bill, 2019:
The National Investigation Agency (Amendment) Bill, 2019 is an amendment bill of the Principal NIA Act 2008. This act, the National Investigation Agency (NIA) is a central agency accustomed by the Government of India to take action against terrorist attacks to take place in the country. By and large, It functions as the Central Counter-Terrorism Law Enforcement Agency. The Main job this Act posses to provide a National level Agency to investigate and prosecute offences which are listed in the schedule as the scheduled offences. Again, the Act comes with the provision to create Special courts for the trial of scheduled offences.
On 8th of July 2019, this bill was introduced by the Hon’ble Minister for Home Affairs, Mr. Amit Shah in Lok Sabha to amend certain portions of the Principal National Investigation Agency (NIA) Act 2008. After being passed by both the Houses, the NIA received the powers to investigate terror crimes relating to Indians and Indian interests.
Mr. Shah said to some questions raised by the oppositions regarding the amendment, “it is the responsibility of the Parliament to build a strong image of National Investigation Agency in front of the world. The efficiency of NIA should not be degraded on political consideration”.
Subject to not to break off citizen’s rights in order to bring the supplemented virtues of the Principal Act 2008, the Centre magnifies the purview of application of the National Investigation Agency Act, 2008 through this Amendment.
The Agency came into power on the date of 31st Dec 2008 for the first time at its Headquartered, Delhi which currently headed by the Chief of National Investigation Agency Y.C.Modi.
The Principal Act for the formation of the National Investigation Agency was passed by Parliament in December 2008.
The National Investigation Agency has a concurrent jurisdiction which authorizes the central Agency to scrutinize the terror attacks take place in any part in the country as well as outside the land with its jurisdiction. Offences and challenges which include with the country’s sovereignty, and integrity and crimes or terrorist conduct such as bomb blasts, hijacking of aircraft and ships, attacks on nuclear installations. Also, the amendments have brought the crimes relating to the smuggling in high quality counterfeit Indian currency according to the definition of a terrorist Act which is made to focus on damaging the financial stability and bring the monetary crisis to the country so that can be investigated by the National Investigation Agency.
“The Agency Bill and The Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Amendment Bill become law on 30th of December in 2008 just after the moment the hen President of India gave her assent to the legislation, the one passed in the Parliament.”
Why Changes are brought?
According to the Report, in 90% of the cases, the conviction has been achieved so far, being recorded as the finest achievement made by the National Investigation Agency in the world. Mr. Shah also said India would finish terrorism by building a strong National Investigation Agency and by showing concern for the martyrs’ family he said, “We care for the widows of our martyred soldiers, we care for their sacrifices. Therefore, it is important to strengthen National Investigation Agency to investigate terror-related crimes and bring justice to these widows.”
The Home Minister said that by designating special courts, the cases would be expedited and transfers or delay in appointments of judges would not delay them.
The Amendment Act, 2019 aims to give more power to the investigating team of National Investigation Agency to conduct an investigation of terror attacks targeting India and Indian interest in abroad. This Amendment Bill which primarily wants to empower the anti-terror agency to investigate the scheduled offences as written under the Act, human trafficking, circulation of fake currency; manufacture and sale of prohibited arms; and cyber-terrorism. This was passed in the Lok Sabha with a majority of 278 votes in favour and six against. After getting passed by the Rajya Sabha this amendment now also will be allowed National Investigation Agency to investigate the Sri Lanka Easter Bombing.
The Agency is authorized to deal with following cases-
- The agency is empowered to deal with terror-related crimes across states without special permission from the states.
- Since a large number of terrorist incidents are found to have complex inter-State and international linkages, and possible connection with organized crime, for example, the smuggling of arms and drugs, circulation of fake Indian currency etc.
- It was for these reasons that an agency at the Central level was created for investigation of offences related to terrorism and certain another Act post-2008 Mumbai terror attacks.
- Crimes like Terror offences, offences against atomic and nuclear facilities, and offences such as waging war against the country, amongst others, were included in this list of offences.
Aims of National Investigation Agency
This Agency aims to be the perfectly trained Investigative Agency matching with the international level of Investigating Skills with the finest skill power and being excellent in counter-terrorism and other national interest related to Security and Investigations by developing a highly trained workforce. Also, it aims to create deterrence for existing and potential terrorist groups/individuals. The National Investigation Agency Act functions concurrently as on this the State Gov. and the centre works hand in hand by requesting the central government to hand over the investigation to the National Investigation Agency but for those cases only which would be listed in the Schedule of the National Investigation Agency Act and vis-a-versa. All those officers from Police services and Indian Revenue can work as the officers of National Investigation Agency and shall possess all the powers, privileges and liabilities in connection with the investigation of any offence.
This Act specifically provides permission or guidelines to form National Investigation Agency to conduct an investigation and for those offences which are scheduled in the list of the Act again, it empowers the officers of National Investigation Agency to go for investigation inside as well as outside of India with respect to international treaties and domestic laws of other countries.
In those cases, the Central Government may direct the National Investigation Agency to investigate the cases occurred abroad as if they have taken place in India and the Court shall have jurisdiction over these case is the Special Court situated in New Delhi.
Changes are made?
Under the guidelines of the Police Act, 1861, the Central Gov. may set up a special agency to be called the National Investigation Agency to bear the responsibility for investigation and prosecution of offences ass scheduled in the list under the National Investigation Agency Act.
To the extent of its purview of functions, another point is added to the existing Section-1 of the Principal Act, 2018 i.e “It will not only remain confined to the citizens of India or any Gov. servant or ship off the ship but to the persons who commit scheduled offences beyond India against the Indian Citizens or affecting the interest of India.”
After the amendment, Section 3 got a wider heading in view of Constitution of NIA and explained as “the investigation process shall be subject to any International treaty or domestic law of the concerned country can be conducted outside of India not only confined within the territory of India.”
Which previously was limited within the land of Indian territory only.
In Section6 after sub-section 7, there is another Subsection added as S.s 8which explains “If the central Gov. is of the opinion that, “The central govt. may order the Investigation team to take up Investigation outside of India, if it believes that a scheduled offence has been committed at any place outside of India to which the Act extends.”
Section 11 “Power of Central Government to designate Court of Session” is explained as-‘The Central Government shall, in consultation with the Chief Justice of the High Court, by notification in the Official Gazette, for the trial of Scheduled Offences, designate one or more Courts of Session as Special Court for such area or areas, or for such case or class or group of cases, as may be specified in the notification’ as stated to be inserted in the existed Section 11 said in the Amendment Bill,2019 (Sect 11-1)
Section 11(8) after got amended, “says For the removal of doubts, it is hereby provided that the attainment, by the Sessions Judge of the Court of Session referred to in sub-section (1), of the age of superannuation under the rules applicable to him in the service to which he belongs shall not affect his continuance as judge of the Special Court and the appointing authority in consultation with the Central Government may by order direct that he shall continue as a judge until a specified date or until completion of the trial of the case or cases before him whichever is earlier.”
Sub-section (9) of the same also says after getting amended, that When more than one Special Court is designated for an area or areas, the senior-most Judge shall distribute the business among them including himself for the disposal of urgent business.
An Act to constitute an investigation agency at the national level to investigate and prosecute offences scheduled in the Act as the scheduled offences affecting the sovereignty, security and integrity of India, the security of India, friendly relations with foreign States and offences under Acts enacted to implement international treaties, agreements, conventions and resolutions of the United Nations, its agencies and other international organisations and for matters connected or incidental.
This Act primarily focuses upon the security function of the Country and to maintain the international level investigation both inside and outside of the Land to constitute a stringent example of Investigation to protect the Country from remote terror attacks.
“The views of the authors are personal“
Frequently Asked Questions
What is Central Counter-Terrorism Law Enforcement Agency?
The Central Counter-Terrorism Centre which is situated in Virginia, is a United States government organization responsible for national and international counter-terrorism efforts. Just in that way India has set up its own Agency as NIA to work in the same way for the state.
Which Courts come under Special Courts Category?
Special Courts are being constituted in India mainly with the motive to fasten the legal procedures in the court trials especially in the matters like Transactions in Securities, Atrocities against Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribes, consuming Narcotic Drugs, Corruption along with NIA Act.
In this Act under Section 11 it is clearly mentioned that, the Central Government shall, by notification may for the trial of Scheduled Offences, constitute one or more Special Courts for such area or areas, or for such case or class or group of cases, as may be specified in the notification.
What are the Scheduled Offences?
The schedule attached with the Act mentions a list of offences which are to be investigated and prosecuted by the NIA and the offences are called the Scheduled Offences.
These include offences under Acts such as the Atomic Energy Act, 1962, and the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, 1967
And the Bill prescribes following offences to be investigated by the Agency such as:
(i) human trafficking, (ii) offences related to counterfeit currency or banknotes, (iii) manufacture or sale of prohibited arms, (iv) cyber-terrorism, and (v) offences under the Explosive Substances Act, 1908.