What is National Investigation Agency (NIA)?

June 25, 2024

The National Investigation Agency (NIA) recently charge-sheeted eight people suspected to be a part of a transnational syndicate trafficking Rohingyas and Bangladeshis into India using forged documents.

About National Investigation Agency (NIA):

  • NIA is the Central Counter Terrorism Law Enforcement Agency of India.
  • Parent Ministry: Union Ministry of Home Affairs.
  • Establishment:
    • It was created after the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks, as the need for a central agency to combat terrorism was realised.
    • It was established under the National Investigation Agency Act, 2008.
    • The NIA, with its headquarters in New Delhi, has 18 branch offices across the country.
  • It investigates and prosecutes offences that affect:
    • the sovereignty and integrity of India;
    • the security of our country;
    • friendly relations with foreign countries; and
    • our implementation of international treaties, agreements, etc. of the United Nations and other international organisations.
  • What offences does the NIA regulate?
    • It investigates and prosecutes offences related to explosive substances, atomic energy, nuclear weapons, unlawful activities, terrorist activities, hijacking, etc.
    • The NIA has the power to regulate any offence given in the Schedule of the NIA Act.
    • The NIA Act was amended in 2019 to enlarge the mandate of the NIA by inclusion of offences related to human trafficking, manufacture and sale of prohibited arms, cyber-terrorism, and offences under the Explosive Substances Act, 1908.
  • Jurisdiction:
    • The agency is empowered to deal with terror-related crimes across states without special permission from the states.
    • It works under a written proclamation from the Ministry of Home Affairs. 
    • A State Government may request the Central Government to hand over the investigation of a case to the NIA, provided the case has been registered for the offences as contained in the schedule to the NIA Act.
    • The Central government can ask the NIA to take over the investigation of any scheduled offence anywhereacross the nation.
    • According to the NIA (Amendment) Act, 2019, officers of the NIA will have the power to investigate scheduled offences committed outside India, subject to international treaties and domestic laws of other countries.
  • Powers:
    • NIA officers have the power to investigate scheduled offences and arrest people who are involved in such offences. 
    • In relation to this, the officers of the NIA have all the powers, duties, privileges, and liabilities which ordinary police officers have while conducting an investigation. 
    • The administration of the NIA lies with its Director-General (DF), who enjoys the same powers as a Director-General of Police.
    • While investigating any offence under the Act, the NIA can request a state government to associate itself with the investigation. 
    • The NIA can also take the approval of the Central government to transfer a case to a state government for investigation and trial. For doing this, the NIA will take into account the seriousness of the offence and other relevant factors.
    • The Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967, was amended in 2019 to empower DG to seize/attach the properties related to proceeds of terrorism in cases being investigated by the NIA.
  • Special Courts:
    • Various special courts have been notified by the Govt. of India for trial of the cases arising out of offences committed in various states of the Union.
    • The Central government can choose session courts in different States to function as special courts for the trial of offences under the Act.
    • These Special Courts are chosen in consultation with the Chief Justice of the High Court of the respective State.
    • Every offence investigated by the NIA is tried by the Special Court, which has authority in the local area where the offence was committed.