Lok Sabha powers anti-terror agency
NEW DELHI, July 15: A law that gives India's federal anti-terror agency National Investigation Agency, or NIA more powers to probe terror cases in India and abroad has been cleared by the Lok Sabha by an overwhelming majority. Only half-a-dozen Lok Sabha members opposed the bill during the head count. A total of 278 members voted in its favour.
Besides letting the NIA investigate terror offences abroad, the bill that was cleared by the Lok Sabha also empowers the agency to investigate cases involving illegal arms, human trafficking, cyber terror and counterfeit currency.
The expansion of this list of offences is crucial because this means that the NIA can cherry pick any of these cases in any state. Unlike the CBI, the NIA is not dependent on the state government's approval before probing these offences.
The NIA Act was set up by the previous UPA government in 2009 to probe terrorist activities after the 2008 Mumbai attacks in which 166 people were killed.
The law was hurriedly passed by Parliament and had led to criticism from the BJP that the provision giving the NIA the right to investigate the listed offences violates the constitutional separation of powers between the states and Centre. That position started to change after the BJP came to power in 2014.
By 2016, Home Minister Rajnath Singh okayed the first draft of the changes that the government felt were needed. But the government had been unsure about political support to the tweaks. -PTI