The Rajya Sabha on Wednesday unanimously passed the National Investigation Agency (Amendment) Bill, 2019 with a voice vote. The bill, which was passed by the Lok Sabha on Monday, will now be sent to President Ram Nath Kovind for ratification.
The bill empowers the investigating agency to look into terror attacks targeted at Indians and Indian interests abroad. It would also allow the National Investigating Agency to seize properties of suspects without waiting for the local police, the Hindustan Times reported.
The bill, amending the National Investigating Agency Act, 2008, mandates a national-level agency to conduct inquiries and prosecute offences listed under the scheduled offences, according to PTI. It also allows special courts to be created for the trial of scheduled offences.
Rajya Sabha members of the Opposition on Wednesday asked the central government to make sure that the states maintain their right to policing and are roped in to assist the National Investigating Agency in terrorism cases. “NIA is a policing agency...it is facing challenges and one day there may be a situation where NIA enactment would be struck down [by court],” PTI quoted Congress leader Vivek Tankha as saying. He further said that the Centre had challenged the state’s right to investigate cases despite the “saving clause” that the power of the state would not be compromised.
Trinamool Congress leader Derek O’Brien shared similar views, saying that the matter of “federalism is a cause of concern”. “If human trafficking and cyber crimes goes in central list, then there is big chance of conflict,” he said. “Then cyber crime can become cyber terrorism and states’ right could be used.”
The government had said on Monday that the bill would increase the agency’s investigating powers and was part of its policy of zero tolerance against terrorism and in national interest. The Minister of State for Home Ministry G Kishan Reddy had introduced the Bill in the Lok Sabha, and sought support from all parties for the passage of it.
The National Investigating Agency was created in 2009 as a federal unit that would investigate and prosecute cases related to terrorism after the 2008 Mumbai attacks. The Union Home Ministry, since 2017, had been pushing for more powers to the agency.