Lok Sabha passes NIA amendment bill 2019

Lok Sabha passes NIA amendment bill 2019

The Lok Sabha Monday passed the National Investigation Agency (Amendment) Bill, 2019 that will allow the investigation agency to also probe terror cases targeting Indians and Indian assets abroad.

A total of 278 members favoured for passage of the billwhile six opposed it.

The bill would now go to the Rajya Sabha before being sentto the President for his approval.

The amendments will also allow the NIA to probe cybercrimesand cases of human trafficking.

The NIA was set up in 2009 in the wake of the Mumbai terrorattack that had claimed 166 lives. Since 2017, the Union Home Ministry has beenpushing for giving more power to the NIA to meet fresh challenges.

The Lok Sabha passed the amendment bill following adiscussion and Home Minister Amit Shah's reply to various concerns raised byopposition leaders pertaining to the proposed changes in the existing act.

Responding to concerns over possible misuse of the terrorlaw, Shah assured the House that the bill was aimed only at eliminating terrorism.

The Minister added that the anti-terror law will not see thereligion of people involved in terror activities and the changes in the lawwill effectively handle terror cases.

The National Investigation Agency (Amendment) Bill, 2019provides for the national-level agency to investigate and prosecute offenceslisted in a schedule (scheduled offences). Further, it allows for creation ofSpecial Courts for the trial of such scheduled offences.

Once the amendments are incorporated in the law, NIA officialswould have the same investigation powers in terror cases as other policeofficers across India. Additionally, they will have the power to investigatescheduled offences committed outside India subject to international treatiesand domestic laws of other countries.

The Bill also allows the Central government to designatesessions courts as special courts for the trial of scheduled offences.

Replying to the discussion, Minister of State for HomeAffairs G Kishan Reddy said that the government is committed to protect thecountry from terrorism.

"This is a government run by chowkidar and will be atthe forefront for the security of the country," he said adding terrorismhas no religion or caste or region, "it's just terrorism".

He said that there are no issues of federal system with NIAand it works in close coordination with states and their agencies.

He added that NIA often writes to chief secretary and DGP ofstate before initiating an investigation.

NIA is investigating as many as 272 cases and in that theyhave filed charge sheet in 199. The minister said that out 272, in 51 cases thecourts have already delivered their judgements and in 46 cases, people havebeen convicted and "there is a 90 per cent conviction rate".

He said that the people have given the mandate to thegovernment to protect the country from terrorism.

"We want to strengthen NIA" and it does not haveany link to any religion or political party, he said.

Participating in the discussion, senior Congress leaderManish Tewari had earlier in the day accused the government of trying to turnIndia into a police state.

Later Asaduddin Owaisi (AIMIM) sought division when the billcame up for passage.

Even Home Minister Amit Shah said that division should betaken up to show "who all are for or against terrorism".While 278 members supported its consideration,only six opposed it. The bill was later passed by a voice vote.

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