New Delhi: Gearing up to fight terrorism in a more effective manner, the Union government on Tuesday introduced a Bill in the Lok Sabha to set up a national investigation agency (NIA) and another legislation to strengthen law against terror.
The Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Amendment Bill aims at strengthening the arrangements for speedy investigation, prosecution and trial of cases related terrorism while at the same time guarding against any possible misuse of such provisions.
The national investigation agency Bill provides for setting up an agency at the central level with powers to probe terrorism and other crimes having national ramifications across the country.
The two bills were introduced by home minister P. Chidambaram, a day after Union Cabinet cleared these in the wake of Mumbai terror strikes.
The agency is being sought to be established in a concurrent jurisdiction framework with provisions for taking up specific cases under specific Acts for investigation, the Bill said.
It also envisages provisions for setting up of special courts to try terror-related cases.
The Bills have been brought forward as the “country has been the victim of large-scale terrorism sponsored from across the border,” Chidambaram said.
“There have been innumerable incidents of terrorist attacks, not only in the militancy and insurgency-affected areas and areas affected by left wing extremism but also in the form of terrorist attacks and bomb blasts in various parts of the hinterland and major cities,” he said.
Soon after the 26 November terror attacks in Mumbai, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had said that the government would set up a federal agency and tighten laws to combat the menace more effectively.
Singh had also convened an all-party meeting to evolve a consensus on the issue.
In the statement of objects and reasons of the NIA Bill, Chidambaram said a large number of such incidents are found to have complex inter-State and international linkages and possible connections with other activities.
These include smuggling of drugs and arms, pushing in and circulation of fake Indian currency and infiltration from across the borders.
“Keeping all these in view, it has for long been felt that there is need for setting up an agency at the central level for investigation of offences related to terrorism and certain other acts, which have national ramifications,” he said.
The Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Amendment Bill has been brought about as various facets of terrorism and terrorist activities, including financing of terrorism, are not fully covered in the present law.
The home minister noted that the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act 1967 was earlier amended to make provisions to deal with terrorism and terrorist activities.
However, he said, “there have been significant developments since then at the national and the international level. Terrorist incidents and activities sponsored from across the borders, in various parts of India and elsewhere, continue to cause concern”.
Chidambaram said the Administrative Reforms Commission in its report “Combating Terrorism - Protecting by Righteousness” has also made various recommendations including setting up of such an agency.
The two bills have come within less than a month of the Mumbai terror strikes which had shocked the nation.
Last week the Prime Minister said that the government cannot allow citizens of the country to be targeted by terrorists and would utilise all means and measures to combat terrorism.