‘Much needed change’: Security experts hail NIA amendment bill
The National Investigation Agency (Amendment) Bill, 2019 cleared in the Lok Sabha on Monday allows the agency to investigate beyond India’s shores.Updated: Jul 16, 2019 07:46 IST
Investigators and experts hailed a bill that gave more muscle to the National Investigative Agency (NIA) but cautioned that the addition of offences such as human trafficking to the federal agency’s charter might prove counterproductive.
The National Investigation Agency (Amendment) Bill, 2019 cleared in the Lok Sabha on Monday allows the agency to investigate beyond India’s shores. “It is a much-needed change,” former acting chief of NIA and director general of the Bureau of Police Research and Development, NR Wassan, said.
When the Indian Embassy in Afghanistan was attacked in October 2009, Afghanistan was keen to help India but the NIA was “not empowered to register a case, investigate and prosecute,” Wassan proffered. “The ability to investigate cases on foreign soil is a much-needed enabling provision,” he added.
The list of offences that can be investigated by NIA has also grown. These will now include offences under Atomic Energy Act, Anti-Hijacking Act and the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act. The NIA can now investigate human trafficking, offences related to counterfeit currency, manufacture or sale of prohibited arms and cyber-terrorism.
“The NIA has been investigating fake-currency cases, it has cross country ramifications and is often linked to terrorism, its inclusion of the scheduled offence helps administratively,” said a serving police officer who did not want to be named.
Former additional director of NIA Prakash Mishra pointed out that human trafficking was not always related to terrorism but added that the problem was reaching alarming proportions.
“Adding human trafficking could dilute the charter of the NIA,” said Avinash Mohanani, who spent years in the Intelligence Bureau tracking terror and later headed Sikkim Police.
Senior police officer Prakash Singh disagreed. “Human trafficking has interstate ramifications,” he said.
The amendments also allow the Centre to designate a sessions court as special courts for the trial of NIA investigated offences. “This was desperately needed,” Wassan said.