General Studies Contemporary Issues 06

All You Wanted To Know About The National Investigation Agency Act (NIA)

General Studies Contemporary Issues 06; UPSC 2020 : Recently, Chhattisgarh government challenged the constitutional validity of the National Investigation Act, 2008 in the Supreme Court. Petition filed by the state government has argued that the NIA should have no power over state policing matters.

What is the NIA 2008?

The National Investigation Agency is a government agency created along the lines of the FBI in the United States, by the then Congress Government in 2008. This agency is more powerful than the CBI.

It gives the NIA powers to take suo motu cognisance of terror activities in any part of India and register a case, to enter any state without permission from the state government, and to investigate and arrest people.

In its title, the object of the law is defined as follows:

“An Act to constitute an investigation agency at the national level to investigate and prosecute offences affecting the sovereignty, security and integrity of India, security of State, friendly relations with foreign States and offences under Acts enacted to implement international treaties, agreements, conventions and resolutions of the United Nations, its agencies and other international organisations and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto.”

Offences brought under the NIA 2008

Offenses under Atomic Energy Act, Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, Anti-Hijacking Act, Suppression of Unlawful Acts against Safety of Civil Aviation Act, SAARC Convention (Suppression of Terrorism) Act, Suppression of Unlawful Acts Against Safety of Maritime Navigation and Fixed Platforms on Continental Shelf Act, Weapons of Mass Destruction and their Delivery Systems (Prohibition of Unlawful Activities) Act and several sections under the Indian Penal Code were brought under the NIA 2008.

According to the NIA Act 2008, Section 6(4) allows the central government to direct the agency to investigate an offence if it deems it fit and if the offence comes under the scheduled offences that NIA can look into.

2019 NIA Amendment Act

The 2019 NIA Amendment Act expanded the type of offences that the investigative body could investigate and prosecute.

It added these new offences under the original act:

(i) human trafficking, (ii) offences related to counterfeit currency or bank notes, (iii) manufacture or sale of prohibited arms, (iv) cyber-terrorism, and (v) offences under the Explosive Substances Act, 1908.

Read more here.

General Studies Contemporary Issues 06: UPSC 2020 Mains Study Material

Arguments against the NIA Act 2008

  • It violates states’ sovereignty, especially in the subject of policing.
  • In the Constitutional scheme of thing, police is in the State List.
  • State Police already have powers to investigate offences mentioned in the NIA Act, 2008.
  • The concept of a federal crime does not exist in India. The Centre has unnecessarily encroached upon state’s jurisdiction through this act.
  • Under the law, the NIA could take over cases if they fall under the offences mentioned in the Schedule of the Act.
  • Under the NIA Act, 2008, it is not necessary to obtain consent from the concerned state before starting an investigation. Hence, it is violative of the federal principle enshrined in the Constitution.
  • The provisions of the NIA Act “leave no room of coordination and precondition of consent” from the state government.
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