The Lok Sabha on Monday passed the National Investigation Agency (Amendment) Bill, giving more teeth to the NIA in probing terror cases in India and abroad.
The amendments will allow the NIA probe cybercrimes and cases of human trafficking, sources had earlier told news agency PTI. The Bill allows the National Investigation Agency to investigate terror attacks on Indians and Indian interests abroad.
Amendment to Schedule 4 of the UAPA will allow the NIA to designate an individual suspected to have terror links as a terrorist. As of now, only organisations are designated as ‘terrorist organisations’.
The NIA was set up in 2009 in the wake of the Mumbai terror attack that had claimed 166 lives.
Since 2017, the Union Home Ministry has been considering the two laws to give more power to the NIA to meet fresh challenges, the sources pointed out.
Ahead of the Lok Sabha session, Home Minister Amit Shah asserted that the Modi government will never misuse it on the basis of religion but ensure that terrorism is finished off irrespective of the religion of the accused.
Shah also targeted the Congress-led UPA government for repealing the anti-terror act POTA, saying it was not done because of its alleged misuse but to “save its vote bank”.
His response came as several opposition leaders criticised the bill and accused the government of using investigating agencies for “political vendetta”.
Some MPs said the anti-terror law is misused at times to target members of a particular community. “Let me make it clear. The Modi government has no such intention. Its only goal is to finish off terrorism but we will also not look at the religion of the accused while taking action,” Shah said.
Further responding to clarifications sought by certain members including on alleged backlog of cases, he said that there is only one NIA designated court in every state. He said that these courts would only take NIA cases and not others.