NIA may become law by weekend

17 12 2008

Source: TOI, IE

the accused to prove his innocence and allowed confessions before the police to be used as evidence — these were part of the Home Ministry’s original draft — were dropped following opposition by some ruling alliance partners and a few Congress ministers. The proposed measures provide for constitution of special courts to try offences under the NIA Bill and to provide for summary trial.

Under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Amendment Bill, preventive detention of an accused can extend up to 180 days instead of 90 days as at present and no accused can be given bail without the prosecution being heard. Further bail can also be denied if the court feels that the chargesagainsttheaccusedareprimafacie true.

Foreign nationals who have entered the country illegally and are being accused under this law shall be denied bail.

Under the Bill, courts are empowered to presume the accused guilty of terrorism if arms or explosives have been recovered from him and there is reason to believe that these could or were used or his fingerprints or any other evidence was found at the scene of crime.

Raising funds for terror acts will attract punishment of a five-year term which may extend to imprisonment for ife with fine. Similarly, the punishment for organising terrorist camps and re cruitment of people will be a minimum five-year term or maximum of life impris onment with fine.

The Central govern ment will have the power to freeze, seize or attach funds and other financial assetsofindividualsorenti ties listed as terrorists and thosewhoaresuspectedto be involved in terrorism.

The NIA, which will be headed by a Director General, will not be able to take up suo motu investigation of any terrorism-related incident without prior approval of the Union Home Ministry.TheCentralgovernmentwillhave15 days to decide whether any case brought to its notice by a state government needs to be investigated by the NIA. Until then, the local police will be expected to investigate the matter on their own.

The Bill makes it mandatory for the state government where the case is under investigation to extend all assistance and cooperation to the NIA. It envisages setting up of special courts to try terror-related cases. The Supreme Court will have the power to transfer a case from one special court to another.

Other provisions include protection of witnesses by keeping their identity and address secret, holding in-camera trial, ap pointment of special prosecutors, fasttrack trial and appeal against decision of a special court to lie with the state High Court. The NIA will investigate cases under the Atomic Energy Act, 1962, specific Acts for investigation, UNPA, Anti-HijackingAct,1982, Suppression of Unlawful Acts Against Safety of Civil Aviation Act, 1982, SAARC Convention on (Suppression of Terrorism) Act, 1993, Weapons of Mass Destruction and Their Delivery Systems (Prohibition of Unlawful Activities) Act, 2005, etc.

Introducing the Bills, Chidambaram said these had been brought forward as the country was a victim of large-scale terrorism sponsored from across the border. “There have been innumerable incidents of terrorist attacks, not only in militancy and insurgency-affected areas and those affected by Left wing extremism but also in the form of terrorist attacks and bomb blastsinvariouspartsofthehinterlandand major cities,” he said.

P DP president Mehbooba Mufti said today that if elected to power, her party would not allow any unilateral decision on extending any terror laws to Jammu and Kashmir, including the proposed National Investigating Agency (NIA).

She said any anti-terror law devised for the country can’t be extended to the state without the consent of its Legislature.

Pointing out the existence of existing laws like the Armed Forces Special Powers Act and Disturbed Areas Act in the state, she said: “This would particularly be an affront to the people who are trying to come out of the trauma inflicted by the two decades of violence and are sending strong signals of peace and tol erance through their current democratic exercise.” Addressing an election rally here, she warned that the “extension of any further curbs on the people here could reverse the positively evolving scenario”.

Mehbooba said the government led by Mufti MohammadSayeedhadrefusedtoenforce POTA when it took over in 2002 even after the Farooq Abdullah government had already extended it to J&K.

¦ The BJP said it would support even a “reluctant and incom plete” move of the UPA govern ment to create a National In vestigation Agency (NIA). ¦ BSP chief Mayawati also ex pressed her party’s support for the anti-terror Bill. ¦ However, the CPI(M) has come up with several objections and is planning to move amend ments in this regard in the Lok Sabha.

NIA may become law by weekend


“When I learnt about it, I got the shock of my life,” Shivramaiah said. “When people came knocking on my door, I was so shocked I didn’t know how to react. I am used to interacting with literatteurs and students. What do I know about a terrorist? Then, I was told he’d given a fake address.” TNN

New Delhi: The NIA Bill, introduced by home minister P Chidambaram on Tuesday, is expected to be taken up for discussion on Wednesday and may well be passed into law by the weekend. After the Lok Sabha clears it, the Rajya Sabha will take it up immediately after.
The schedule listing the Acts under which offences can be probed by the National Investigation Agency include the Atomic Energy act, UAPA, Anti-Hijacking Act and the Weapons of Mass Destruction Act. The quick-footedness, brushing aside the sensitivity about treading on the powers that have been cherished by states and pushing reluctant elements in the UPA while sealing BJP support highlighted the shift in discourse on terrorism after 26/11.

With the Congress keen to signal that it is serious about terrorism, the NIA will be another step in consonance with the process that began with the sacking of Shivraj Patil, followed by the appointment of Chidambaram as home minister, decapitation of the Maharashtra government and tough diplomacy on Pakistan.

Confounded that its terror plank did not cut ice with Delhi voters and failed in Rajasthan, the BJP quickly extended support. It argued that the Centre’s “reluctant and incomplete’’ step towards an effective anti-terror regime was a vindication of its campaign for strong laws.
The NIA is not short of ammunition to trigger a debate on the touchy subject of Centre-state relations. The NIA bill empowers the Centre to take suo motu decision if an offence was a federal offence, relegating the opinion of state to a secondary consideration in case of a difference of opinion. This issue has been a point of discord since the agency was mooted. The Left said it will seek amendments to demand that states should be associated with NIA probes. As of now the bill says states “may’’ be associated.

The cabinet saw the provisions for admissibility of evidence being rejected along with putting the onus of proof on the accused. Chidambaram was keen to include the admissibility of confessions, but this ran into political opposition from ministers like Lalu Prasad and Ramvilas Paswan. The option for a special law was also ruled out. Some of these apprehensions were articulated by minority affairs minister A R Antulay after the bill was brought in parliament, as he “did not rule out the possibility of the law being misused’’. He demanded that the same law be made applicable for communal riots.

The Congress’s push on the terror front is clearly a bid to usurp the plank from the BJP in the wake its victories in Delhi and Rajasthan. Since then, it has maintained a tough stance on Pakistan as well. The BJP’s bid to claim the original authorship on the government’s first tangible anti-terror move is clearly aimed at claiming some credit and also arguing that it had been more clear-eyed in assessing the dangers posed by terrorism.
While Mumbai has hammered home the reality of terrorism as a national threat, reining in the UPA allies prone to make a religious issue of it, the turnaround in the Congress’s fortunes has also helped in stalling the armtwisting.

The NIA, which will be be headed by a director general at par with the DGPs of states, will deal with offences of terrorism, counterfeit currency, violation of SAARC conventions like human trafficking, narcotics and organised crime, plane hijacking and violations of atomic energy act and weapons of mass destruction act among others.

Kasab ‘stayed’ at vacant site in Bangalore
Bangalore: The owner of a vacant site in
Nagarbhavi has become the undivided focus of media attention after the address on the identity card seized from Kasab by the Mumbai police was traced to No. 254, Teachers’ Colony here. This 30 ft x 40 ft site belongs to the family of critic and writer Professor Shivaramaiah, 68. It has been lying vacant for seven to eight years.


Common Provisions Staggering, Only A Few Fresh Clauses Added


New Delhi: Pota is almost back. Though the anti-terror law the government has sought to legislate does not have a few key provisions of Pota like admissibility of confessions, many other aspects like use of wiretaps as evidence and stringent bail conditions are now set to be part of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.

The Mumbai attacks have done what 20 other jihadi strikes on the Indian mainland outside J&K in four years could not do. The political opposition and Congress’ own lack of appetite for hard anti-terror laws melted before the staggering scale of the LeT strikes on Mumbai. Detention without bail for up to 180 days instead of 90 days, police custody of accused up to 30 days instead of 15 and life imprisonment for those involved in terror acts are some of the provisions in the UAPA which were part of Pota.

The bill has, however, not revisited one of the most stringent provisions of the Pota—treating confession before police as evidence. As far as banning an organisation or freezing its assets are concerned, the bill, unlike Pota, has taken into consideration the existing resolutions of the UN Security Council. Accordingly, it provides for extending ban on any outfit which has already been proscribed by the world body.

Considering this, if Jamaat-ud-Dawa is a banned outfit in the UNSC list, it will automatically come under the category of proscribed organisation in India. Referring to bail provisions and extension of detention to 180 days, the bill has taken into account the difficulties faced by investigating agencies in completing the probe within the stipulated 90-day period —particularly in terror-related cases with inter-state ramifications. The extension is, however, only limited to Indians involved in terror acts. The amendment is not so kind to foreigners who will be denied bail until proven innocent. Even an Indian national accused in a terror case cannot be released on bail.
The bill says that the court shall presume, unless the contrary is shown, that the accused has committed an offence for which he has been arrested, including possession of arms or explosives with a belief that these or such substances were used in the commission of a terror act. The amendment also provides for freezing and attaching funds held by individuals or entities engaged in or suspected to be engaged in terrorism. The proposed law has also for the first time included “seizure of credit or debit cards” as ones to be considered as evidence.

A new section has been inserted in the bill which says that those using explosives, firearms, poisonous chemicals, biological or radiological weapons with the intention of aiding, abetting or committing a terror act “shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to 10 years”. The bill says that anyone in India or in a foreign country who directly or indirectly raises or collects funds or provides funds for a terrorist act shall be punishable with at least five years imprisonment, which may extend to life.

Old wine in New Bottle

UAPA Bill: Repackaged Pota
Terror suspects can be held without charges for up to 180 days. Pota had same provision
Police custody can stretch to 30 days, the Pota limit
No bail if court satisfied allegation is prima facie true, similar to Pota restriction
UAPA incorporates Pota’s blanket ban on bail for foreign accused
Pota provision for drawing ‘adverse inference’ incorporated in UAPA as a ‘presumption’ against the accused

What’s new in UAPA Bill

Terror definition includes attack on any public functionary
To have a clause which provides for punishment if the funder had prior information that money is to be used for terror acts
Imprisonment up to 10 years for getting explosives, radioactive substances, nuclear devices etc with intention of abetting terrorist act
Life imprisonment for organizing terror camps or for recruiting any person for terrorist act
Empowers Central govt to seize funds of terrorist group and prevent entry into country of persons suspected to be engaged in terrorism