Context: The Ministry of Home Affairs has sanctioned three additional branches of the National Investigation Agency (NIA).
- This decision will help in ensuring quick response to any emergent situation in the States concerned by the premier anti-terror investigation agency.
- It will strengthen the NIA’s capability in investigation of terrorism-related cases and other national security related matters.
- It will also facilitate timely collection of crucial information and evidence.
- National Investigation Agency (NIA) is a central agency established by the Indian Government to combat terror in India. It is under the Ministry of Home Affairs.
- It is the only truly federal agency in the country, along the lines of the FBI in the United States, more powerful than the CBI.
- NIA has powers to take suo motu cognisance of terror activities in any part of India and register a case, to enter any state without permission from the state government, and to investigate and arrest people.
- The National Investigation Agency (NIA) Amendment Act, 2019 provides for the national-level agency to investigate and prosecute offences listed in a schedule (scheduled offences).
- Scheduled offences: The schedule to the Act specifies a list of offences which are to be investigated and prosecuted by the NIA.
- These include offences under Acts such as the Atomic Energy Act, 1962, and the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, 1967.
The Amendment Act also allows the NIA to investigate the following offences, in addition:
(i) human trafficking,
(ii) offences related to counterfeit currency or bank notes,
(iii) manufacture or sale of prohibited arms,
(iv) cyber-terrorism, and
(v) offences under the Explosive Substances Act, 1908.
Jurisdiction of the NIA
- The officers of the NIA have the same powers as other police officers in relation to investigation of such offences, across India.
- In addition, officers of the NIA will have the power to investigate scheduled offences committed outside India, subject to international treaties and domestic laws of other countries.
- The central government may direct the NIA to investigate such cases, as if the offence has been committed in India.
- The Special Court in New Delhi will have jurisdiction over these cases.
- The central government may designate Sessions Courts as Special Courts for the trial of scheduled offences.
- The central government is required to consult the Chief Justice of the High Court under which the Sessions Court is functioning, before designating it as a Special Court.
- When more than one Special Court has been designated for any area, the senior-most judge will distribute cases among the courts.
- Further, state governments may also designate Sessions Courts as Special Courts for the trial of scheduled offences.