New Delhi: The government on Monday assured that it would never abuse the NIA law to target anyone even as it asserted that it would ensure that terrorism is finished off in the country, irrespective of the “religion of the accused”.
Seeking to give more teeth to the National Investigation Agency (NIA), the Lok Sabha on Monday passed a Bill to allow it to probe terrorist acts against Indians and Indian interests abroad, cybercrimes and cases of human trafficking.
In an intervention during the discussion on National Investigation Agency (Amendment) Bill, 2019, home minister Amit Shah said Parliament should speak in one voice in giving powers to the NIA to send out a message to terrorists and the world. Some MPs said the anti-terror law is misused at times to target members of a particular community. “Let me make it clear the Modi government has no such intention. Its only goal is to finish off terrorism... we will also not look at the religion of the accused while taking action,” Mr Shah said.
While the government maintained that broadening the NIA’s powers was essential for implementing its zero-tolerance policy against terrorism, the Opposition claimed that it would end up turning India into a “police state”.
Congress MP Manish Tewari said that providing the NIA with sweeping powers was not desirable when agencies were being “misused by the Centre for political vendetta”.
Congress MP Manish Tewari claimed that an amendment should not be made when the constitutional validity of the original NIA Act was being challenged in various courts.
The Bill was subsequently passed by a division vote in which 278 MPs voted in favour and only 6 members voted against it.
During his intervention, Mr Shah also targeted the earlier UPA government for repealing the anti-terror act POTA, and insisted that it was not done because of its alleged misuse but to save its vote bank.
The division voting, which was asked for by Hyderabad MP and AIMIM chief Asaduddin Owaisi, was not bereft of drama as the home minister said division must be allowed as it would be clear who all voted in favour of terrorism and who opposed it.
Soon Congress MPs were seen conferring among themselves and Congress leader of the Lok Sabha, Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, and DMK leader T.R. Balu said there was no need for a division vote as it was a UPA Bill and they were not opposing.
However, Speaker Om Birla ruled that since he had already allowed it, division voting would take place.