Home >Politics >Policy >Lok Sabha passes bill that gives more powers to NIA
A file photo of NIA officers. Photo: AFP (AFP)
A file photo of NIA officers. Photo: AFP (AFP)

Lok Sabha passes bill that gives more powers to NIA

  • Govt tells oppn bill won’t be misused against anyone on basis of caste, religion, region
  • Defending the bill, the Government refuted opposition's allegations of 'misuse' of the NIA law to target members of a community

NEW DELHI : The Lok Sabha on Monday passed the controversial National Investigation Agency (Amendment) Bill, 2019, with the Union government assuring the opposition that the bill will not be misused against any community on the basis of caste, religion and region.

The assurance of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government comes after several opposition parties alleged that the bill will be used specifically against people of one religion.

The bill was passed after 278 members of Parliament (MPs) supported it, with only 6 opposing it during voting.

All political parties should support the bill to send out a message that Parliament was unanimous in the fight against terrorism, home minister Amit Shah said in the Lok Sabha.

“We urge all political parties to speak in one voice in favour of the National Investigation Agency (Amendment) Bill, 2019. We should send a strong message. I assure the House that the Union government under Prime Minister Narendra Modi would not misuse the bill against any community on the basis of religion," said Shah.

The bill will now have to be passed in the Rajya Sabha, where the NDA is in a minority.

The National Investigation Agency (NIA) was formed when the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) was in power at the Centre and the bill, which looks to give greater powers to the organization, should not be used for any political purpose, Shah said.

The bill seeks to increase the jurisdiction of NIA to investigate scheduled offences committed outside India and provides for constituting special courts for the trial of scheduled offences such as human trafficking and cyber terrorism.

The opposition’s charge was led by Manish Tewari of the Congress who said the Union government was attempting to turn India into a “police state" with a bunch of legislations beginning with the NIA Amendment Bill. “In the absence of the data protection Act, in the absence of definition of terrorism, even the UAPA Act defines terrorist act and not terrorism... these are very fundamental legal conclusions that need to be gone into," he said.

“If you read the NIA Amendment Bill in conjunction with UAPA Amendment Bill, in conjunction with the Biotechnology Bill, in conjunction with the Aadhaar Amendment Bill, you are seeking to turn this country into a police state, and the repercussions of that will last far beyond your tenure," Tewari said.

NIA was investigating 272 cases of which 46 resulted in convictions, while charge sheets have been filed in 191 cases, minister of state for home affairs G. Kishan Reddy said during the discussion in the Lower House.

Earlier in the day, the government introduced two key bills in the Lok Sabha—The Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Bill, 2019, and The Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill, 2019—amid concerns raised by members of Opposition parties, including the Congress, on both bills. Congress and Trinamool Congress members raised concerns over taking away of powers of the state governments and need for greater consultation.

The provisions of the Motor Vehicles Bill are not binding on the states and a consensus should emerge to save hundreds of lives lost because of road accidents, Union transport minister Nitin Gadkari said in a bid to allay fears.

The Surrogacy Bill, which seeks to ban commercial surrogacy, was opposed by Congress leader Shashi Tharoor who said it restricts reproductive rights of married couples by allowing surrogacy after a time limit and preventing same-sex parents from opting for surrogacy.

This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text. Only the headline has been changed.

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