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Bill gives overriding powers to probe officers

delhi Updated: Dec 17, 2008 01:33 IST
Nagendar Sharma
Nagendar Sharma
Hindustan Times
Bill gives overriding powers to probe officers

The Government on Tuesday set in motion the process to seek Parliament’s nod on its war against terror with the introduction of a bill to create a National Investigation Agency (NIA).

Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram introduced the bill in the Lok Sabha for the creation of a new agency to exclusively deal with terror attacks.

“India has been the victim of large-scale terrorism sponsored from across the borders. After due consideration and examination, it has been proposed to set-up this agency,” Chidambaram said introducing the bill.

The National Investigating Agency Bill, 2008, when passed, would for the first time in the country allow officers of the agency to freely crack terror cases and bring culprits to book.

The bill provides for overriding powers to NIA officers “of or above the rank of sub inspector” throughout India — powers equivalent to the officer-in-charge of a police station in the area the officer might be at the time of investigation.

The NIA would be empowered to take over investigation of eight specifically mentioned terror-related crimes including hijacking, any terror attack, any violation of the Atomic Energy Act and anything against the law on weapons of mass destruction.

The bill empowers the Centre to hand over the investigation of a terror attack on its own. In addition, if states want to get any offence investigated by the NIA they would be able to do so.

In case of a terror attack or a related offence, the officer-in-charge of the concerned police station would be required to immediately inform the state government, which in turn shall forward the report to the Centre as soon as possible, the bill says.

The Centre would be have to decide within 15 days whether the offence committed is fit to be handed over to the agency.

Those accused of terror would be tried in special courts on a day-to-day basis, with the agency having its own prosecutors to elaborate the charges.

In case the special court wants it, the trial would be held in-camera — meaning — it would not be open to public. Any appeal against the decision of such a court would lie with a division bench of the high court.