The NIA was constituted in the wake of the 26/11 Mumbai terror attack in November 2008. The agency came into existence on December 31, 2008 and started its functioning in 2009.
The National Investigation Agency (NIA) was constituted in 2009 under the provisions of the National Investigation Agency Act, 2008 (NIA Act).
It is the central counter-terrorism law enforcement agency in the country. The NIA is a central agency which investigates all offences affecting the sovereignty, security and integrity of India, friendly relations with foreign states, and the offences under the statutory laws enacted to implement international treaties.
The law under which the agency operates extends to the whole of India and also applies to Indian citizens outside the country. These include terror acts and their possible links with crimes like smuggling of arms, drugs and fake Indian currency and infiltration from across the borders. The agency has the power to search, seize, arrest and prosecute those involved in such offences.
Reasons for establishment of National Investigation Agency:
- Large-scale terrorism sponsored from across the borders: Over the past several years, India has been the victim of large-scale terrorism sponsored from across the borders. terrorist attacks and bomb blasts, etc., in various parts of the hinterland and major cities, etc. prepare a ground for a specialised agency.
- Chain of crimes: A large number of such incidents are found to have complex inter-state and international linkages, and possible connection with other activities like the smuggling of arms and drugs, pushing in and circulation of fake Indian currency, infiltration from across the borders, etc. Keeping all these in view, it was felt that there was a need for setting up of an agency at the central level for the investigation of offences related to terrorism and certain other Acts, which have national ramifications.
- Recommendations: Several expert committees and the Second Administrative Reforms Commission have also made recommendations for establishing such an agency.
- Specific cases under specific Acts for investigation: The Government after due consideration and examination of the issues involved, proposed to enact a legislation to make provisions for establishment of a National Investigation Agency in a concurrent jurisdiction framework, with provisions for taking up specific cases under specific Acts for investigation.
Federal structure of India and NIA:
Initially, it was envisioned that the NIA would deal with only eight laws mentioned in the schedule and that a balance had been struck between the right of the State and duties of the Central government to investigate the more important cases.
The Bill was passed by the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha.
The list includes:
- the Explosive Substances Act,
- Atomic Energy Act,
- Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act,
- Anti-Hijacking Act,
- Suppression of Unlawful Acts against Safety of Civil Aviation Act,
- SAARC Convention (Suppression of Terrorism) Act,
- Suppression of Unlawful Acts Against Safety of Maritime Navigation and Fixed Platforms on Continental Shelf Act,
- Weapons of Mass Destruction and their Delivery Systems (Prohibition of Unlawful Activities) Act and relevant offences under the Indian Penal Code, Arms Act and the Information Technology Act.
In September 2020, the Centre empowered the NIA to also probe offences under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act that are connected to terror cases.
As provided under Section 6 of the Act, State governments can refer the cases pertaining to the scheduled offences registered at any police station to the Central government (Union Home Ministry) for NIA investigation.
After assessing the details made available, the Centre can then direct the agency to take over the case. State governments are required to extend all assistance to the NIA.
Even when the Central government is of the opinion that a scheduled offence has been committed which is required to be investigated under the Act, it may, suo motu, direct the agency to take up/over the probe.
Where the Central government finds that a scheduled offence has been committed at any place outside India to which this Act extends, it can also direct the NIA to register the case and take up investigation. While investigating any scheduled offence, the agency can also investigate any other offence which the accused is alleged to have committed if the offence is connected to the scheduled offence.
To deal with cases like executed murder of Kanhaiyya Lal in Rajasthan's Udaipur and Umesh Kolhe at Amravati in Maharashtra, where mass public sentiments are attached, the role of agencies like NIA became significant.
In the growing hate and terrorism environment across the globe, NIA can be a vital tool for India. Power to probe offences under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act that are connected to terror cases, further strengthen the NIA.