Questions raised over NIA bypassing J&K in Udhampur probe

Following Centre’s transfer of the Udhampur terror attack case to National Investigation Agency, questions have been raised if the agency can bypass the state government to handle such cases.

Though Naveed alias Usman alias Qasim Khan after his arrest on August 5 was brought to Kashmir for questioning by the J&K police, he was immediately taken back to Jammu by the NIA team.

“The protocol in such militancy related cases till now had been that the accused were interrogated by J&K Police. But this time it remained surprisingly a different story,” a police official wishing not to be named, told Deccan Herald.

Protocol not followed
“As if giving the custody of the accused to the state police wasn’t enough, the NIA took up the case into its own hands without getting clearance from the State Home department which is mandatory,” he said.

Under NIA Act, the agency can take up investigation into any case registered under its “scheduled offences” without the consent of the State government concerned.

However, legal experts say, since Ranbir Penal Code (RPC) is not part of the scheduled offences of the NIA, the agency cannot take up probe in any case registered under it on its own.

Though the agency can take up any case under the “scheduled offences” mentioned in the NIA act without the state’s consent, legal experts point out that Ranbir Penal Code (RPC) is not a part of it.

Senior advocate at J&K High Court Hafizullah Mir said NIA has a limited mandate in the militancy-hit state since Indian Penal Code (IPC) cannot be invoked in J&K.

 “They (NIA) had to seek formal clearance from the government of Jammu and Kashmir. So in any case NIA had to seek J&K State’s clearance,” he told Deccan Herald.

The NIA Act states that it “applies to the whole of India”, but Mir said it should have contained the words ‘including J&K’ due to some grey areas.

Meanwhile, sources said the trial of the arrested militant will be held on a regular basis in all working days with J&K police getting a chance to quiz him.

 “The accused will be in NIA custody and can be lodged in any police station during investigations,” sources said.

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