After hours of spat between the Centre and opposition parties, including the Congress, the National Investigative Agency (Amendment) Bill, 2019 has been passed in Lok Sabha on Monday. The House passed the bill by a voice vote with 278 members supporting its consideration and only six opposing. Early in the day, the Lok Sabha took up a discussion on the proposed legislation which aims at broadening the NIA’s investigating powers, a part of the Centre's policy of zero tolerance against terrorism.
"Lok Sabha passes the National Investigation Agency (Amendment) Bill, 2019," the news agency ANI reported.
Lok Sabha passes the National Investigation Agency (Amendment) Bill, 2019. pic.twitter.com/jBU7O3uOW1— ANI (@ANI) July 15, 2019
While the Centre introduced the bill, seeking support of all parties in national interest, opposition parties, including the Congress accused the government of trying to turn India into a "police state". The lower house of Parliament also witnessed a verbal duel between Union Home Minister Amit Shah and AIMIM chief Asaduddin Owaisi over the passage of the bill.
Shah, however, refuted opposition claims over "misuse" of the NIA law, asserting that the Modi government will never exploit it on the basis of religion but ensure that terrorism is finished off irrespective of the religion of the accused.
The BJP leader said Parliament should speak in one voice in giving powers to the NIA to send out a message to the world, adding that a division in the House on the issue of strengthening the agency will boost the morale of terrorists.
Shah's response came as several opposition leaders criticised the bill and accused the government of using investigating agencies for "political vendetta". Some MPs said the anti-terror law is misused at times to target members of a particular community.
On this the Union Minister said, "Let me make it clear. The Modi government has no such intention. Its only goal is to finish off terrorism but we will also not look at the religion of the accused while taking action".
What is NIA Amendment Bill, 2019?
The bill, which amends the National Investigation Agency (NIA) Act, 2008, seeks to further strengthen the National Investigation Agency (NIA) by giving it powers to probe terror attacks targeting Indians and Indian interests on foreign soil. It will also allow the agency to probe cyber crimes and cases of human trafficking.
The NIA was set up in 2009 following the 2008 Mumbai terror attack, when 10 members of Lashkar-e-Taiba, an Islamic terrorist organisation based in Pakistan, carried out 12 coordinated shooting and bombing attacks lasting for four days across the city. The attacks, which drew widespread global condemnation, claimed 166 lives and left over 300 wounded.