Home Minister Amit Shah (Source: RS TV)
Home Minister Amit Shah (Source: RS TV)

Parliament passes NIA (Amendment) Bill; Shah assures members against its misuse

ANI | Updated: Jul 17, 2019 21:59 IST

New Delhi [India], July 17 (ANI): In a major push to its fight against terrorism, the Parliament passed the National Investigation Agency (Amendment) Bill, 2019, with the Rajya Sabha approving it unanimously on Wednesday after Home Minister Amit Shah's assurance that government would never allow its misuse.
The Bill aims at enhancing the jurisdiction of NIA to investigate scheduled offences committed outside India targeting Indians as well as Indian assets abroad.
"I want to assure the House that Prime Minister Narendra Modi government will not allow any misuse of this law," Shah said, urging the members to pass the Bill unanimously so that a strong message be sent to terrorists and the world that India is united in its fight against terrorism.
When the Bill was taken up for voting, Congress' T Subbarami Reddy moved some amendments, which were negated. The Bill was passed by a voice vote.
Replying to concerns raised by the members, Shah said that it was the responsibility of the Parliament to build a strong image of NIA in front of the world.
"The efficiency of NIA should not be degraded on political considerations," he said.
Citing the sterling record of the NIA in terror cases, he said that as on June 2019, out of 272 cases registered, charge sheets have been filed in 199 cases while prosecution is over in 51 cases and convictions have been achieved in 46 cases.
"This is one of the best performances by global standards," he added.
The Minister intervened during the discussion when the opposition members raised the case of Samjhauta blast.
Shah said the case was politically motivated on religious lines and prosecution did not find any evidence against the accused.
"People were falsely implicated," he said, asking if those who were implicated and their families had no human rights.
Defending the independence of investigation agencies, the Home Minister said that under Narendra Modi government, the investigation and prosecution agencies function independently and are never misused.
"Their functioning does not depend on the political mandate, but on the rule of law," he said.
Shah said till now India did not have the power to prosecute terrorists accused of perpetrating acts of terror against Indians abroad.
Congress' Vivek Tankha said that constitutionality of a body like NIA is under challenge since policing is under state jurisdiction.
"Despite the saving clause therein in this Act, the central government, in the exercise of its powers in Section 6, has been challenging the rights of the states to assist in investigations, taking away cases where they are already investigating. So, this was not the intent of NIA. The spirit of the NIA was that of cordiality and federalism," he said.
Trinamool's Derek O'Brien said the issue of federalism is a cause of concern.
"If human trafficking and cyber terrorism go back to the Central list, then there is a big chance of a conflict and then the state rights can be usurped," he said.
The Left party members demanded to send the Bill to the Select Committee. To this, Shah said they should have moved a motion in this regard.
"Why should we have Standing Committees and the Select Committees," asked CPI's D Raja.
The Left members then staged a walkout.
The amendments in the Bill will enable the NIA to additionally investigate offences related to human trafficking, counterfeit currency, manufacture or sale of prohibited arms, cyber-terrorism and offences under the Explosive Substances Act, 1908.
It also provides for constituting special courts for the trial of scheduled offenses such as human trafficking and cyber terrorism.
Earlier, moving the Bill, Minister of State for Home G Kishan Reddy said the legislation will strengthen the legal framework of NIA to counter-terrorism.
"It will ensure harsher punishment for terrorists," he said. (ANI)