‘Due to time consuming investigations, remand provision for NIA increased from 14 days to 30 days’
Srinagar, July 24 : Just a week after the both Houses of Parliament passed the National Investigation Agency (NIA) bill, the Lok Sabha on Tuesday passed the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Amendment Bill 2019, in a move that gives a big push to country’s internal security machinery.
According to KNO Monitoring Desk, with the Bill being put to vote in the Lower House, 287 members voted for the bill while eight members dissented, with Congress Members of Parliament (MPs) walking out of the Lok Sabha, demanding that the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Amendment Act Bill be sent to a Standing Committee for review.
The UAPA Bill was introduced in the Lower House by Union home minister Amit Shah on 8 July, just two weeks after the Union cabinet had cleared it. The Bill amends the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967, providing special procedures to deal with militant activities, and individuals and groups that foster militancy in India. It will now be tabled in the Rajya Sabha, where it awaits passage.
Speaking in the Lower House, Union home minister Amit Shah said, “The law is just to finish militancy in the country and not to misuse it. I assure the house that it will not be misused. The toughest laws are needed to root out terror from its roots. I have merely brought in amendments.”
What the Bill proposes:
The proposed amendments to the existing Act redefines “Who may commit militancy”, establishing that under the Act, the Centre may designate an organisation as a terrorist organisation if it commits or participates in acts of militancy, prepares for militancy, promotes militancy, or is otherwise involved in militancy. The Bill also additionally empowers the government to designate individuals as militants on the same grounds.
At the same time, the Bill also paves the way for the National Investigation Agency (NIA) to seize property as part of investigations into terror cases, adding that “if the investigation is conducted by an officer of the National Investigation Agency (NIA), the approval of the Director General of NIA would be required for seizure of such property.”
Under the existing Act, the investigating officer is required to obtain the prior approval of the Director General of Police (DGP) to seize properties that bear any connection to “militancy.”
This, however, was challenged by AIMIM MP Asaduddin Owaisi – who vehemently opposed the Bill — in the Lok Sabha, who said, “When there is seizure of property, where is judicial scrutiny. You are violating federalism. How can NIA take state property? That is a violation.”
At the same time, while the existing Act provides for investigation of cases to be conducted by officers of the rank of Deputy Superintendent or Assistant Commissioner of Police or above, the proposed amendment additionally empowers the officers of the NIA — of the rank of Inspector or above, to investigate cases.
Justifying the amendment, Union home minister Amit Shah said, “The NIA is a specialized anti-terror force and it is not a police station. There is an administrative hierarchy and a special review process is followed. There are 250 cases that are pending and SPs (superintendent of police) are less than 25. There is a need for PI (police inspector) to be trained and be allowed to take over such cases as well.”
Shah also added that the NIA’s monitoring system had been improved, with the intent of expediting investigation and judgment.Shah also added that the remand time was required to be 30 days as opposed to the prescribed 14 days given.
“The complex nature of investigations that NIA has to do — there are detailed analysis of data and computers that they need to do, counterfeit currencies are involved and so remand provision is for 30 days and not 14 days because the investigation takes time.”