Rattled by the Mumbai terror attacks, the government on Monday night finally backed its war on terror with a tough legal framework.
<b1>The Union Cabinet has decided to move Parliament to set up a new national agency to track down, investigate and prosecute terrorists — like the US’s Federal Bureau of Investigation. Stronger laws to keep them behind bars for longer will back it.
The Central Industrial Security Force Act will also be amended to enable the force to guard private installations like IT hubs and hotels like the Taj.
“The Union Cabinet today gave its approval to the
proposal to amend the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act 1967 and for setting up of a National Investigating Agency,” a terse five-line official statement after the Cabinet meeting said. The bill to seek parliamentary approval for the NIA would be introduced this week, “as soon as possible, in a day or two.”
The NIA is likely to be governed by the Defence of India Rules, normally used in times of war. This would give the agency overriding powers to take over the investigation of terror attacks directly without interference from the states.
The need for a new agency arose since the only existing central agency, the CBI, requires the consent of state governments before beginning its investigation.
Since the Defence of India comes in the Central list of the Constitution, the Centre can enact laws to defend the country.
Constitutionally, the Defence of India Rules can by invoked in an extraordinary situation, and emergency can be imposed in a limited area.
The changes in the Unlawful Activities Act would allow the agency to detain terror suspects for six months, instead of the present period of 90 days, before filing the chargesheet in the court.
The agency would have its own prosecutors and terror cases would be tried in special fast track courts.