More teeth for NIA to probe terror cases in offing

With Indians living abroad and missions there under terror radar, the government is planning to amend the law to give powers to National Investigation Agency (NIA) to probe terror acts outside India.

The Ministry of Home Affairs is now circulating a draft bill to amend the NIA Act 2008 to include extra-territorial jurisdiction, simplication of procedure for appointment of judges to preside over Special Courts use and inclusion of certain offences in the schedule to the Act.

Officials said the amendment was required to extend jurisdiction of NIA beyond India for investigation of terror cases as a number of NRIs living abroad and Indian embassies are potential target for terrorists.

According to the draft amendment to Section 6 of NIA Act, “where the central government is of the opinion that a Scheduled Offence has taken place outside India where the provision of the Act as apply, it may suo-motu, direct the Agency to register the case and take up investigation as if an offence has taken place in India and for this purpose, the special court at New Delhi shall exercise the jurisdiction.”

The government also plans to amend the law to ensure that the trial is not affected by the frequent transfers of judges.

As per the new proposal, one or more Session Courts could be designated as special court in consultation with Chief Justice of High Court concerned rather than appointing judges by name.

There also plans to include new Acts — Chapter 11 of Information Technology Act, Explosive Substances Act, Chapter VI and sections 489A to 489E of Ranbir Penal Code, Section 25(1AA) of Arms Act and Section 370 and 370A of IPC — to the schedule of NIA Act.

The MHA also moved proposal to amend the UAPA Act to facilitate speedy investigation and trial of terror cases. One of the amendments propose to empower the Director General of NIA to accord prior approval for seizure or attachment of a property representing proceeds of terrors. Presently, prior approval of Directors General of Police of states is needed to be taken by NIA.

The accused sometimes own properties in more than one state and seeking approval of DGPs of different states is a time consuming process. The rationale behind the amendment is to plug the loophole where accused take advantage of this process and transfer his properties to someone else.

(An edited version appeared in Deccan Herald on Dec 20, 2016)

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