NIA (AMENDMENT) ACT, 2019
~ Yashika Manchanda
“Condemnation without Investigation is the height of ignorance.”
- ALBERT EINSTEIN
As we all know that the investigation phase of any case is really of much importance and especially the investigation over a threat to our country which is majorly the TERRORISM. This blog is specifically about the NIA body regulated under the Central Government of India.
WHAT IS NIA?
The NIA (NATIONAL INVESTIGATION AGENCY) is a powerful investigating agency established in 2008 immediately after the Mumbai terror attack. This agency is formed to deal only with the terror cases of interstate nature with international ramification. Investigation is primarily the responsibility of State Police Authority. But NIA Investigation can be ordered by the Centre on request of the State or when the Centre orders Suo Moto then the State would have the freedom to continue with their own independent investigation.
PROVISIONS INTRODUCED (2019)
The amendments made to the act are expected to establish NIA truly as a Federal Investigating Agency in lines of FBI in USA and also to establish NIA more powerful than CBI. Originally, this agency used to investigate the terror cases of only - (i) Atomic Energy Act, 1962 and (ii) Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, 1967. The NIA Amendment Act of 2019 had brought some major changes or additions to the act. The amendments included more kind of terror cases that are - (i) Human Trafficking, (ii) Offences related to counterfeit currency or bank notes, (iii) Cyber-Terrorism, (iv) Offences under Explosive Substances Act, 1908 and (v) Manufacturing or sale of prohibited arms.
This amendment Act also empowered the NIA to investigate scheduled offences committed outside India subjected to International Treaties and domestic Law of the concerned country. This is the first time that a legal provision is introduced for Investigation outside India.
A provision of Special Courts had also been introduced in which the Central Government may designate the Session Courts of a State as Special Courts for NIA after consultation with the Chief Justice of the High Court concerned.
Many experts on constitution are of the opinion that the amendments had undermined the role of State Police on Investigation. The important function of a State within federal polity is Policing and it has 3 major tasks – Prevention of Crime, INVESTIGATION of Crime and Prosecution. It has an adverse impact on the federal polity which can be a boon of contention in the Centre – State relations.
The NIA has shown approximately 92% conviction rate recorded in 2019 which is really a high figure. As the scope of the NIA had been widen, there is an opinion to widen the organization and its structure also to maintain zero tolerance policy towards terrorism. These amendments can have an ill impact on exceptionally high conviction rate maintained by the NIA. Also, too much centralization in investigation undermines the Federal division of powers and the authority of State Police Forces. But as reported in March 2020, the conviction rate is 90% which can be concluded as the NIA is efficient enough to handle the wider scope added in 2019. Terrorism is a crime against the whole country so in my opinion, the chances of these amendments to have an ill impact in future between the Centre and the State are very low and this is a great step specially because of the provision of the Special Courts.
Source : ALS IAS (YouTube channel)
Pictures : deccanherald.com, livemint.com