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Posted at: Jul 16, 2019, 7:10 AM; last updated: Jul 16, 2019, 11:00 AM (IST)

LS clears Bill giving NIA more teeth

Cong protests, Shah says won’t allow misuse, repealing POTA was a mistake
LS clears Bill giving NIA more teeth
Home Minister Amit Shah speaks in the Lok Sabha during the Budget Session of Parliament, in New Delhi on Monday, July 15, 2019. LSTV/PTI photo

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 15

As the Lok Sabha passed a Bill today empowering the National Investigation Agency (NIA), the government said it won’t allow the anti-terror law to be misused in the name of religion.

Home Minister Amit Shah gave the assurance in the Lower House after some MPs expressed apprehensions of the National Investigation Agency Amendment Bill being misused to target people of a particular religion.

“Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led NDA Government has no intention of misusing the law. Nor will we allow its misuse,” Shah said before the Bill was passed with a voice vote after AIMIM member Asaduddin Owaisi demanded a division of votes. Shah promptly supported the call, saying: “The country should know who stands with terrorism and who does not.”

The Bill survived with 278 votes in favour and six against it, but the BJP’s move at division caught the Congress, NC and DMK off guard as these parties had objected to various provisions of the law earlier. Congress MP Manish Tewari had argued that the Bill had the potential to turn India into a police state.

So when Speaker Om Birla ordered the division, Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Choudhry said: “What’s the need for a division? We are supporting the Bill.” Congress had to ultimately vote for the Bill. While Congress leaders Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi were absent, Shah attacked the UPA for repealing The Prevention of Terrorism Act (POTA), 2002, for political reasons.

“The Congress took the decision to repeal POTA in the very first Cabinet meeting in 2004. This wasn’t the right decision. POTA was repealed not because of misuse but because of vote bank politics. The result was, between 2004 and 2008 terrorism rose so much that the same Congress had to bring the NIA Act. Had POTA not been repealed, perhaps Mumbai terror attacks would not have happened,” Shah said provoking strong reactions from Congress benches.

He also accused the UPA of letting off real culprits of the Samjhauta blast and arresting innocent people and said: “We will have a debate on this.”

Shah rejected Owaisi and DMK leader A Raja’s insinuations that anti-terror laws tended to target Muslims. “That’s not true. Anti-terror laws were used against LTEE also,” Shah noted.

Read: Govt says Bill in national interest; Cong calls it bid to turn India into ‘police state’

The NIA Amendment Bill, 2019, enables Chief Justices of High Courts across India, including Jammu and Kashmir, to designate existing sessions courts as special NIA courts for dedicated trial of cases under the probe agency.

Shah said special NIA courts won’t handle any other cases save NIA’s.

The Bill will give NIA the jurisdiction to investigate attacks on Indians abroad through bilateral agreements with nations. NIA hitherto has no such jurisdiction.

Allows agency to probe terror acts abroad

  • The NIA Amendment Bill, 2019, gives NIA jurisdiction to probe terror attacks on Indians abroad through bilateral agreements with nations
  • It allows High Court CJs to designate existing sessions courts as special NIA courts, which won’t handle any other cases
  • The NIA was set up in 2009 in the wake of the Mumbai terror attacks that had claimed 166 lives
High conviction rate

  • 90% conviction rate in NIA cases
  • 51 cases in trial stage, 46 convictions
  • 278 total cases, chargesheet in 199

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