New Delhi: In a move aimed at giving more powers to the country’s key anti-terror unit, the National Investigation Agency, the home ministry has issued a Cabinet note that it should be given powers to allow plea bargains to convert death sentences into life imprisonment for convicts for those willing reveal crucial information in terror cases.
“The ultimate decision on a plea bargain has to be taken by the court. But the investigative agency can be given powers to let the special public prosecutor approach the court with the request for a plea bargain. This can be extremely effective in terror attack cases where the prime suspects can help the NIA provide crucial information on the conspiracy and other modules,” a top MHA official said. The plea bargain proposal, sources said, has been under consideration for a while now, and there is a view in the MHA that if handled with care plea bargains can be an “extremely effective tool” to get information on terror activities.
The plea bargain system had worked effectively in the US in the case of David Coleman Headley, an accused in the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks, who recently gave some important information while being cross-examined through video conferencing from a US prison.
Following his special deal. Headley had also confirmed Ishrat Jahan was indeed a Lashkar-e-Tayyaba operative. If the home ministry plan is accepted, it can be used in cases like Yakub Memon, who was hanged for his role in the 1993 Mumbai serial blasts.
The Cabinet note says the NIA should be given powers to infiltrate terror groups like ISIS and those operating from Pakistani soil and targeting India.
There has been a rising threat to India from ISIS in the past few months. The NIA had told the home ministry that it needed a “more focused approach” to get prior information on terror attacks being planned against India.
“All intelligence agencies have their moles or informers within terror outfits. The NIA wants more powers to let them infiltrate these terror groups by planting their own informers,” the official added.
The role of intelligence gathering through this mode is largely restricted to the Research and Analysis Wing as well as the Intelligence Bureau,” the official added.
The MHA also wants the Union Cabinet to give the NIA more powers to investigate attacks on Indian assets in other countries, particularly attacks on embassies and consulates.
NIA officials feel most of these attacks are carried out by terror groups that are active in India too, so the investigations can provide addition information about ongoing subversive activities within the country....