The National Investigation Act was enacted in the aftermath of the Mumbai terror attacks of 2008. A decade later, the Act was amended with the objective of speedy investigation and prosecution of certain offences, including those committed outside India.The National Investigation Agency (Amendment) Bill, 2019 was passed by Parliament.
The Act provides for a national-level agency to investigate and prosecute offences listed in a Schedule (scheduled offences). The National Investigation Agency acts as the Central Counter terrorism Law Enforcement Agency. The Agency is authorised to investigate any terror related matter across the country without special permission of the courts.
The original Act of 2008 itself had given the NIA powers to supersede the state police in the investigation and trial of terror related Offences.
The 2019 amendment in the law focused on three main areas.
OFFENCES OUTSIDE INDIA:
The original Act allowed NIA to investigate and prosecute offences within india. The amended Act empowered the agency to investigate offences committed outside India, subject to international treaties and domestic laws of other countries. The amended section reads: “where the central government is of the opinion that a Scheduled Offences has been committed at any place outside India to which this Act extends, it may direct the agency to register the case and take up the investigation as if such offences has been committed in India.
WIDENED THE SCOPE OF LAW:
The NIA can investigate and prosecute offences under the Acts specified in the Schedule of the NIA Act. The Schedule originally had the Atomic Energy Act, 1962, the unlawful Activities (prevention) Act, 1967, and The Anti-Hijacking, 1982, among other entries. The amendment has followed the NIA to investigate cases related to (i) human trafficking, (ii) counterfeit currency or banknotes, (iii) manufacture or sale of prohibited arms, (iv) cyber-terrorism, and (v) offences under the Explosive Substance Act, 1908.
The 2008 Act constituted Special Courts for conducting the trial of offences under the Act. The 2019 amendment allowed the central government to designate Sessions Courts as Special Courts for the trial of Scheduled Offences under the Act. The Central government is required to consult the Chief Justice of the High Court under which the Sessions Courts is functioning, before designating it as a Special Court. When more than one Special Court has been designated for any area, the Seniormost Judge will distribute cases among the Courts. State government too, may also designate Session Court as Special Court for the trial of Scheduled Offences.