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NIA can soon probe terror attacks on Indians abroad

The NIA will soon have extra-territorial jurisdiction to probe terror attacks on Indians or their properties outside India.

india Updated: Oct 12, 2015 01:33 IST
Rajesh Ahuja
Afghan security policemen stands guard on a rooftop as smoke rises following an attack by insurgents on the Indian consulate in Herat.
Afghan security policemen stands guard on a rooftop as smoke rises following an attack by insurgents on the Indian consulate in Herat. (AFP File Photo)

The National Investigation Agency’s (NIA) will soon have extra-territorial jurisdiction to probe terror attacks on Indians or their properties outside India, sources told HT.

The government has agreed to the agency’s proposal in this regard which will help it to probe cases like the May 2014, terror attack on Indian consulate in Herat in Afghanistan. As of now, the NIA’s jurisdiction doesn’t apply outside India.

Under the US laws, the FBI has this kind of jurisdiction which allowed it to have a parallel probe into the 26/11 Mumbai attacks in which American nationals were also killed. Similarly, if given jurisdiction, the NIA can launch a parallel probe into any terror attack against Indians outside the country.

But the agency’s another significant proposal for seeking legal protection to carry out an undercover operation by infiltrating a terrorist organisation is yet to pass muster, sources said.

The NIA had argued that as of now the law doesn’t differentiate between an undercover operator becoming part of criminal conspiracy to unravel it and a real conspirator. Both can be charged with the same offence.

In USA and UK, undercover operators, who penetrate terrorist or criminal gangs for gathering evidence, are provided legal protection.

“To provide extra-territorial jurisdiction to the NIA, a Cabinet note will be prepared soon by the home ministry in consultation with the ministry of law to amend the National Investigation Act that governs the working of the NIA. But on undercover operations, we want to have more clarity on the kind of legal protection the NIA is asking for,” said a senior government official requesting anonymity.

The government has also agreed to the NIA’s two other proposals.

“The government is ready to amend the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) for allowing the inspector rank officials to be designated as Investigation Officer. As of now only deputy superintendent of police rank officials can be designated as IOs in a UAPA case. The NIA inspectors now sufficient expertise to be appointed IOs,” said the official.

Another amendment in the NIA Act will allow designation of special NIA court without naming the judge in the notification.

“When notified judges are transferred or promoted, it leaves the court vacant. If only courts are designated under the NIA Act, any judge can be appointed there filling the vacancy easily,” said a source.