The Congress-led Chhattisgarh government on Wednesday moved the Supreme Court against the 2008 National Investigative Agency (NIA) Act, stating that it is violative of the Constitution. The Bhupesh Baghel government in its civil suit told the court that the NIA should have no power over state policing matters. This makes the state the first to file a civil suit against the NIA in the apex court.
“The NIA Act takes away the power of conducting probe by state, confers discretionary and arbitrary powers on the Centre. NIA Act is against the idea of state sovereignty as envisaged under the Constitution,” the Chhattisgarh government has stated in its petition. According to Advocate General Satish Verma, “selective picking of cases of political interest” by the NIA led them to file the case.
The NIA Act of 2008 governs the functioning of India’s premier counter-terror agency. The law was passed by the previous Congress-led United Progressive Alliance government in the wake of the 26/11 Mumbai terrorist attack that claimed over 160 lives. The then Home Minister P Chidambaram helmed the bill through Parliament with very little opposition.
The Act empowers the NIA to probe terror attacks targeting Indians and Indian interests abroad, making it an equivalent to America's Federal Bureau of Investigation and far more powerful than the Central Bureau of Investigation. The NIA Act gives the NIA powers to register a case in terror cases, to enter any state without needing permission from its government, and to investigate and arrest people.
The Agency has been empowered to conduct investigation and prosecution of offences under the Acts specified in the Schedule of the NIA Act. 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. Central Government can also order NIA to take over the investigation of any scheduled offense anywhere in India.
(With inputs from agencies)