National Investigation Agency Current Affairs - 2020

LS passes National Investigation Agency (Amendment) Bill, 2019

The National Investigation Agency (Amendment) Bill, 2019 was passed by Lok Sabha, to allow NIA to probe terrorist acts against Indians and Indian interests abroad. The Bill seeks to give more teeth to National Investigation Agency (NIA).

Key Highlights

NIA was set up in 2009 in aftermath Mumbai terror attack that had claimed 166 lives.

Since 2017, Union Home Ministry has been pushing for giving more power to NIA to meet fresh challenges.

The amendments will allow NIA to probe cybercrimes and cases of human trafficking.

In every state there is only one NIA designated court and these courts would only take NIA cases and not others.

Salient Features of Bill

The National Investigation Agency (Amendment) Bill, 2019 amends National Investigation Agency (NIA) Act, 2008 that provides for a national-level agency to investigate and prosecute offences listed in a schedule (scheduled offences). Also, NIA Act allows for creation of Special Courts for trial of scheduled offences.

Scheduled offences: The schedule to Act mentions list of offences which are to be investigated and prosecuted by NIA which include offences under Acts like Atomic Energy Act (AEA), 1962, and Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA), 1967. In addition to these the Bill also seeks to allow NIA to investigate following offences- cyber-terrorism, offences related to counterfeit currency or bank notes, offences under Explosive Substances Act (1908), manufacture or sale of prohibited arms and human trafficking.

Jurisdiction of NIA: The present NIA Act provides for creation of NIA to investigate and prosecute offences specified in schedule and NIA officers have same powers as other police officers in relation to investigation of such offences, across India. The NIA Amendment Bill seeks that in addition to current provisions, NIA officers will have power to investigate scheduled offences committed outside India, subject to domestic laws of other countries and international treaties. Also, if the offence has been committed in India Central government may direct NIA to investigate such cases and Special Court in New Delhi will be having jurisdiction over these cases.

Special Courts: Currently the Act allows central government to constitute Special Courts for trial of scheduled offences but the Bill passed amends this to state that central government may designate Sessions Courts as Special Courts for trial of scheduled offences.

Although, before designating Sessions Courts as Special Courts for trial of scheduled offences, the central government is required to consult Chief Justice of High Court under which the Sessions Court is functioning.

In case when more than one Special Court has been designated for any area, then senior-most judge will distribute cases among courts. Moreover, state governments may also designate Sessions Courts as Special Courts for trial of scheduled offences.

Pro-Khalistan group ‘The Sikhs for Justice’ banned by govt.

Pro-Khalistani group ‘The Sikhs for Justice’ (SFJ) has been banned by Central government for its alleged anti-national activities. In a recently held Union Cabinet meeting decision was taken to ban on Sikh fundamentalist organisation SFJ under Section 3 of Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) for its alleged anti-national activities.

Reasons for ban given by government is that the Sikhs for Justice has been indulging in activities prejudicial to internal security of India and public order and have potential of disturbing peace and unity and integrity of country. Also, the group openly espouses cause of Khalistan and in that process challenges the sovereignty and territorial integrity of India.

About The Sikhs for Justice

It is a US-based Pro-Khalistani group that was formed in 2007.

It is headed by Avtar Singh Pannun and Gurpatwant Singh Pannun. The internal group of SFJ comprises of 8 to 10 people but, it’s online support is close to 2 lakh.

SFJ primary objective: to establish an independent and sovereign country in Punjab.

It gained prominence only in last 5 years as it started advocating a separate Khalisatn state. For this purpose it also started an online secessionist campaign, ‘Sikh Referendum 2020’. SKJ pushes for Sikh Referendum 2020 as part of its separatist agenda.

Cases Registered: Punjab Police has registered 10 different cases against SFJ and it’s members, while National Investigation Agency (NIA) is also probing group in one case. But in all 11 cases, investigators found that SFJ was providing money and logistical support to local terrorists in Punjab to carry out subversive activities.

What is Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act?

It is an Indian law which is aimed at effective prevention of unlawful activities associations in India.

Objective: to make powers available for dealing with activities directed against integrity and sovereignty of India.

UAPA was first framed in 1967, and since then it has been amended twice- first in 2008 and then in 2012.