NIA soon can probe terror attacks in foreign countries 

Union Home Minister Amit Shah speaks in the Lok Sabha during the Budget Session of Parliament, in New Delhi, Monday, July 15, 2019. (LSTV/PTI Photo)

The Lok Sabha on Monday passed a bill that seeks to empower the National Investigation Agency (NIA) to probe cases of cybercrime and human trafficking after an assurance from Home Minister Amit Shah that the law will not be abused, particularly to target anyone on the basis of religion.

“Let me make it clear. The Modi government has no such intention. Our only goal is to finish off terrorism. We will not look at the religion of the accused while taking action,” Shah said intervening in the discussion on the NIA (Amendment) Bill in the Lok Sabha.

The Bill also arms the NIA with powers to investigate and prosecute offences listed in a schedule and allows to set up Special Courts for trial of such cases. The Bill also allows the NIA to investigate cases of human trafficking, offences related to counterfeit currency, manufacture and sale of prohibited arms, cyber-terrorism and offences under the Explosive Substances Act.

Besides, the Bill also empowers the probe agency to investigate such offences against Indian nationals in foreign countries, subject to international treaties and domestic laws of other nations.

Congress member Manish Tewari said that providing the NIA with sweeping powers would not be desirable at a time when probe agencies were being “misused by the centre for political vendetta”.

Earlier, several opposition members, including N K Premachandran (RSP) and Saugata Roy (Trinamool), questioned the government's decision to take up the Bill for consideration at a time when the House was discussing the Union Budget. However, Speaker Om Birla ruled that the debate on the Bill can begin.

“There are many other ways to tackle terrorism. We have carried out surgical strikes and air strikes to deal with Pakistan,” Shah said responding to a query raised by Trinamool member Kalyan Banerjee, who sought to know whether NIA would be able to probe offences against Indian interests in Pakistan.

The NIA was set up in 2009 by the then UPA government after the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks. It is empowered to investigate terror cases across the country without acquiring special permission from the states.

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