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HC to hear petition on constitutional validity of NIA

Last updated on: December 11, 2012 21:22 IST

The petition filed by Malegaon blast accused Sadhvi Pragya Singh questions how the NIA can probe cases when law and order is the exclusive subject of state governments. Vicky Nanjappa reports

The Bombay high court on Wednesday will hear a petition challenging the constitutional validity of the National Investigation Agency which was constituted by the Union government to probe all cases pertaining to terrorism. The petition was filed by Sadhvi Pragya Singh, an accused in the Malegaon case.

The petition questions the legislative competence of the Parliament to enact such a law constituting the National Investigating Agency. The petition raises the question that if law and order is the exclusive subject of state governments, as mentioned in the Constitution, how can the Centre impose an agency formed by it to probe cases in various states?

Ganesh Sovani, advocate for the sadhvi, says that law and order is the exclusive subject of the state as per List II of the Seventh Schedule of the Constitution of India.

A similar question had been raised when the government had proposed the National Counterterrorism Center that came under a lot of flak from state governments. The state governments felt that law and order was a subject matter of the state and any such agency would erode into its rights thus giving the central government absolute power.

The Malegaon blasts case was being investigated by the Maharashtra Anti Terrorism Squad before it was handed over to the NIA. The government felt that it would be fit for the NIA to probe the matter as the case was not restricted to one state alone and had a national ramification. The idea behind the constitution of the NIA was to avoid jurisdictional hassles for the police. A probe by a central agency meant that it could go to any state and probe a case, power that a state police official does not have.
Vicky Nanjappa in Bengaluru