New Delhi, Jul 15: A Bill seeking to further strengthen the National Investigation Agency by giving it powers to probe terror attacks targeting Indians and Indian interests on foreign soil was passed in Lok Sabha on Monday.
There was high drama during the debate on the National Investigation Agency (Amendment) Bill, 2019 and also during its passage as in rather assertive and unprecedented manner, Union Home Minister Amit Shah asked for division and said, 'Let it be clear today, who is with the bill. Who wants to fight terror and who is against it.'
Put to vote, 278 members voted in favour while six of them, voted against.
Before the voting exercise, Congress floor leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury said, 'We all are in favour of the bill'.
Initially, Saugata Roy of Trinamool Congress and others opposed taking up the bill on technical grounds, saying it cannot be brought in during the financial business of the House.
During the debate, the ruling BJP, including Mr Shah and the opposition members, clashed fiercely.
The ruckus prevailed for a while when Hyderabad MP and AIMIM member Asaduddin Owaisi wanted to raise objections to some remarks of BJP MP Satya Pal Singh.
As soon as AIMIM leader wanted to ventilate his protest on BJP MP's remarks, Mr Shah was up on his feet asking the Hyderabad MP to maintain silence and give a patient hearing to the debate.
"I beg to differ, why did you keep silent when DMK member A Raja was speaking and now want to make a point. My submission is you should listen to what Satya Pal Singh is saying. Please show some patience and your ability to listen too," Mr Shah said firmly.
Just then someone from the opposition said - "Are you trying to scare us?"
Mr Shah quickly retorted saying, "I am not trying to scare anyone. But if the fear is inherent ('agar dar mann mein baith gaya hai)' then what can I do?"
Responding to members, both Mr Shah and MoS Home G Kishan Reddy said the new proposal in the bill will empower the NIA to probe matters concerning Indians overseas.
The government wants to further strengthen the NIA Act, said Mr Reddy.
As many as 272 cases were taken up by the NIA and charge sheet was submitted in 199 cases, adding that conviction rate was 90 per cent.
He appreciated Punjab lawmaker Ravneet Singh's speech and said the opposition member spoke from his heart.
'The country has given us the responsibility to protect the 130 crore people of the country and we will root out the menace of the terrorism from the country,' he said.
The Bill amends the National Investigation Agency (NIA) Act, 2008. The Act provides for a national-level agency to investigate and prosecute offences listed in a schedule (scheduled offences). Further, the Act allows for the creation of Special Courts for the trial of scheduled offences.
The Bill seeks to allow the NIA to investigate the following offences, in addition human trafficking, offences related to counterfeit currency or bank notes, manufacture or sale of prohibited arms, cyber-terrorism, and offences under the Explosive Substances Act, 1908.
The Bill states that in addition, 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.
Giving clarification to opposition members, including Supriya Sule (NCP) and Kalyan Banerjee (Trinamool Congress), the Home Minister said that a previous law POTA to fight terrorism menace was repealed by UPA regime for 'vote bank politics'.
Trying to take a dig at the Congress and other parties, he said 'as we eradicate terror menace, we will not see who has done this...who is the perpetrator".
He said the government will deal with the wrongdoers vis-a-vis terror menace firmly on the basis of who has committed it and will not be decided on which community the terrorist belongs to.
"I want to make the record clear that the 'POTA ko misuse ke liye repeal nahi kiya gaya tha' (POTA was not repealed for its misuse)," Mr Shah said amid thumping of desks among the treasury bench members.
"POTA was repealed just for the reason of vote bank politics," he said and maintained that POTA was a useful law which could protect the country from terror attacks. 'Repealing it was not an appropriate decision'.
Mr Shah said Pakistan, which is not part of the SAARC Regional Convention of Suppression of Terrorism, will be 'compelled' one day to ink the Treaty.
Mr Shah said that "There is a SAARC treaty on the issue, but Pakistan has not signed it....But Pakistan will be compelled to sign it one day".
He also told the Lower House of Parliament amid repeated thumping of desks by NDA members that "even without NIA, there are various other measures which can be adopted against Pakistan on the issue of terror".
"We have other means like surgical strike, aerial strike....," he said.
"....duniya ke dabao mein, usko (Pakistan) ko bhi ek na ek din, treaty ko sign karna hi padega (Even Pakistan will be compelled to sign the SAARC treaty one day)," he said.
Mr Shah also said that the UPA-regime under Manmohan Singh has made "U-turn" in the Samjhauta Blast case.
The NIA was set up in 2009 in the wake of the Mumbai terror attack which claimed 166 lives. (UNI)