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Sansad TV: Bills & Acts- National Investigation Agency Act

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Introduction:

The National Investigation Agency Amendment Act seeks to allow the NIA to investigate the offences related to human trafficking, counterfeit currency or bank notes, manufacture or sale of prohibited arms, cyber-terrorism, and offences under the Explosive Substances Act.

 NIA:

  • The National Investigation Agency (NIA) was set up in 2009 under the NIA Act, 2008. It was set up in the wake of the Mumbai terror attack.
  • At present, NIA is functioning as the Central Counter Terrorism Law Enforcement Agency in India. The National Investigation Agency (Amendment) Bill, 2019 which enhances the jurisdiction and powers of NIA. The amendments will allow NIA to probe cybercrimes and cases of human trafficking.

It is a central agency to investigate and prosecute offences:

  • affecting the sovereignty, security and integrity of India, security of State, friendly relations with foreign States.
  • against atomic and nuclear facilities.
  • smuggling in High-Quality Counterfeit Indian Currency.

It is also the Central Counter Terrorism Law Enforcement Agency.

  • It is empowered to deal with terror related crimes across states without special permission from the states.
  • Established under the National Investigation Agency Act 2008.
  • Works under the Ministry of Home Affairs.

Mandate of NIA:

  • It aims to be a thoroughly professional investigative agency matching the best international standards at the national level, by developing into a highly trained, partnership-oriented workforce.
  • It aims to discourage the existing and potential terrorist groups/individuals.
  • It aims to develop as a storehouse of terrorist related information
  • The agency aims to match the best international standards in counter terrorism and other national security related investigations at the national level by developing into a highly trained, partnership oriented workforce.

Jurisdiction:

  • A State Government may request the Central Government to hand over the investigation of a case to the NIA, provided the case has been registered for the offences as contained in the schedule to the NIA Act.
  • Central Government can also order NIA to take over investigation of any scheduled offense anywhere in the India.

Special NIA Courts:

  • Various Special Courts have been notified by the Central Government of India.
  • Any question as to the jurisdiction of these courts is decided by the Central Government.
  • These are presided over by a judge appointed by the Central Government on the recommendation of the Chief Justice of the High Court with jurisdiction in that region.
  • Supreme Court of India has also been empowered to transfer the cases from one special court to any other special court within or outside the state.

How does the NIA take up a probe?

  • State government refers case: As provided under Section 6 of the ActState governments can refer the case pertaining to the scheduled offences registered at any police station to the Central government (Union Home Ministry) for NIA investigation.
  • Central government directs the agency: After Assessing the details made available, the Centre can then direct the agency to take over the case.
    • State governments are required to extend all assistance to the NIA.
  • Outside India: Where the Central government finds that a scheduled offence has been committed at any place outside India to which this Act extends, it can also direct the NIA to register the case and take up an investigation.
  • Can investigate allied offences: While investigating a scheduled offence, the agency can also investigate any other offence that the accused is alleged to have committed if the offence is connected to the scheduled offence.

Impediments in its operative functioning:

  • Due to law and order being state subject, NIA has faced coordination issues with regards to state police.
  • Quality manpower is a constant challenge, especially with regards cyber attack capabilities.
  • With regards to tech, it is dependent of foreign imports.
  • There are no dedicated officers; the officers are recruited from Central State police, Central armed police forces on deputation.
  • Lack of coordination mechanism with other specialised agencies like RAW, IB, State police etc. E.g.: Confusion during Pathankot attacks
  • Lack of experts to deal with the cybercrimes.
  • Lack of financial autonomy.

Measures needed:

  • Granting of financial autonomy similar to CAPF.
  • Although special courts will speed up judgments but filling up the vacancies of judiciary is a challenge in present times.
  • To investigate cyber-crimes, need skilled manpower and ethical hackers.
  • As many experts recommend, it is time for India to have a documented national security doctrine
  • The doctrine should be accompanied by a security strategy that should spell out the state response to various kinds of security challenges.

Conclusion:

  • Dealing with the menace of terrorism would require a comprehensive strategy with involvement of different stakeholders, the Government, political parties, security agencies, civil society and media. There is a need for National Counter Terrorism Centre.
  • A centrally co-ordained Terrorism Watch Centre, which could also operate as a think tank with sufficient inputs from academic and private experts.