National Investigation Agency (NIA)

The National Investigation Agency (NIA) Act of 2008 established the NIA.

It is a central agency in charge of investigating and prosecuting crimes: 

  • harming India's sovereignty, security, integrity, state security, and good ties with foreign states
  • against nuclear and atomic facilities
  • High-Quality Counterfeit Indian Currency Smuggling
  • It carries out the United Nations, its agencies, and other international organizations' international treaties, accords, conventions, and resolutions.
  • Its goal is also to battle terror in India.
  • It serves as the Central Law Enforcement Agency for Counter-Terrorism.
  • The headquarters are in New Delhi.
  • Hyderabad, Guwahati, Kochi, Lucknow, Mumbai, Kolkata, Raipur, and Jammu have branches.

What are the objectives of the NIA?

  • To conduct in-depth professional investigations of scheduled offences, utilizing the most recent scientific investigative methodologies.
  • Upholding the Indian constitution and the laws of the nation.
  • Individual dignity and human rights are of the utmost significance.
  • Creating a professional staff by providing ongoing training and exposure to best practices and procedures.
  • Ensure an efficient and timely trial.
  • Maintaining professional and amicable ties with state and union territory administrations, as well as other law enforcement agencies, in accordance with the NIA Act's legislative stipulations.
  • Assist all states and other investigators in the investigation of terrorism cases.
  • Create a database of all terrorist-related information and make it available to states and other entities.
  • Study and analyze terrorist legislation in other countries, and review the sufficiency of existing laws in India regularly, proposing revisions as needed.

What exactly are the scheduled offences?

  • The Act's schedule includes a list of offences the NIA must investigate and prosecute.
  • Offences under Acts such as the Atomic Energy Act of 1962 and the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act of 1967 are examples.

What is the Need for NIA?

Terrorist attacks are discovered to have intricate inter-state and international links, as well as possible connections with organized crime, such as the smuggling of weaponry and drugs, the trafficking of counterfeit Indian rupees, and so on.

  • The central Agency was established to investigate terrorism-related offences and other Act violations following the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks.

What are the NIA's mandates?

According to Section VI of the NIA Act of 2008, the cases are assigned to the NIA by the Central Government.

  • The Agency conducts its investigations into the cases.
  • Following an investigation, the cases are sent to the NIA Special Court.
  • The Agency seeks Central Government approval to prosecute the accused under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967 (UAPA) and certain other listed offences.
  • The sanction is given under the UAPA based on the report of the 'Authority' established under section 45 (2) of the UAPA.
  • It has the authority to deal with terror-related offences across state lines without needing specific authorization from the states.

What are Smuggling and Terror Funding?

  • The revisions to the NIA Act have classified offences involving the importation of high-quality counterfeit Indian currency as terrorist acts.
  • The NIA has established a Terror Funding and Fake Currency Cell (TFFC) to combat several facets of terrorism financing.
  • The Cell has a database of terror financing and incidents of counterfeit Indian currency notes (FICN).
  • The TFFC also undertakes a portion of the investigation into terror funding components of ordinary NIA cases.
  • The TFFC Cell conducts bank account verifications on suspects associated with Naxalite organizations.
  • A dedicated Left Wing Extremism (LWE) unit deals with instances including terror financing by Naxalite organizations.
  • The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) periodically examines the NIA's human, budgetary, and infrastructural requirements.

What are the most recent amendments?

Parliament enacted the NIA (Amendment) Bill, 2019, which amends the original Act of 2008.

The Bill proposes to empower the NIA to investigate the following additional offences:

  • Human trafficking
  • Offences involving counterfeit cash or banknotes.
  • Manufacturing or selling of illegal armaments
  • cyberterrorism
  • Offences under the Explosive Substances Act of 1908.

The NIA's jurisdiction:

  • Regarding investigating such offences, NIA officials have the same authority as other police officers across India.
  • The NIA would have the authority to investigate scheduled offences committed outside of India, subject to international treaties and local laws of other nations.
  • The national government may instruct the NIA to examine such instances as if the crime had occurred in India.
  • The Special Court will hear these cases in New Delhi.

What exactly are special courts?

  • Under Sections 11 and 22 of the NIA Act 2008, the Central Government establishes one or more special courts for trialling scheduled offences.
  • The Special Court will be presided over by a judge selected by the Central Government based on the Chief Justice of the High Court's proposal.
  • On the proposal of the Chief Justice of the High Court, the Central Government may appoint an extra judge or judges to the Special Court if necessary.

Special Courts' Jurisdiction:

  • Under the 1973 Code of Criminal Procedure, Special Courts have all the authority of a court of sessions.
  • Any challenge concerning the jurisdiction of any Special Court shall be addressed to the Central Government, whose judgment shall be final.
  • In extraordinary instances where it is impossible to conduct a peaceful, fair, impartial, and timely trial, the Supreme Court may transfer a matter currently before a Special Court to any other Special Court within that State or any other State.
  • Similarly, the High Court has the authority to transfer a matter from one Special Court in a State to another Special Court in that State.

What are the problems with the recent amendments?

  • Preserving public order and police forces is a state responsibility under Schedule VII of the Constitution.
  • However, criminal law is included in the concurrent list, and national security is included in the realms of union list.
  • The Central Government can delegate to the NIA the investigation of offences, including claims of human trafficking, violations of the Explosives Act, and some violations of the Arms Act.
  • Furthermore, not every criminal offence in the preceding Act constitutes a danger to national security or sovereignty, so governments have the authority to deal with it.
  • Section 66F of the Information Technology Act is added to the Schedule of Offenses by the Amendment Bill.
  • Section 66F addresses cyber terrorism.
  • Furthermore, India lacks data protection laws and no definition of cyber terrorism.
  • The change to the NIA Act also empowers the Agency to investigate crimes committed by individuals against Indian citizens or "in the interest of India."
  • Furthermore, the term "affecting India's interests" is vague and can be abused by governments to restrict free speech and expression.
  • Moreover, the statutes under which the NIA has the jurisdiction to investigate do not include the phrase "affecting the interest of India" as an offence.