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Cabinet clears proposal to set up NIA

December 15, 2008 21:08 IST
Last Updated: December 15, 2008 22:12 IST

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The Union Cabinet on Monday approved amendments to the law to provide for a tough legal measure and the setting up of a National Investigating Agency to combat terror.

The Cabinet, which had an unscheduled meeting, gave its approval to the proposal to amend the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967 and the setting up of the NIA, an official spokesman said.

The Cabinet also approved a proposal for amendment to the Central Industrial Security Force Act.

There were no details available on what the CISF amendment was but it comes amid demands that key private sector installations be given security cover by the para-military force, which guards state-owned facilities, installations, and undertakings besides airports.

The spokesman said the bills will be introduced in Parliament, which is currently in session.

The Cabinet decision comes in the wake of the Mumbai terror attacks [Images] after which the government has expressed its determination to put in place a tough legal framework to combat the menace.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh [Images] and Home Minister P Chidambaram have told Parliament that the government would set up a National Investigating Agency that will probe terror cases at the federal level.

Since law and order is a state subject, the proposed amendment may give the Centre overriding powers over the states in case of terrorist attacks, like the Mumbai mayhem.

The amendments to the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act are understood to be aimed at making detention provisions more stringent by providing for up to 180 days against 90 days at present.

It is also expected to place the onus of proving innocence on the part of accused.

Sources said the proposed agency would use the Defence of India Rules and the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act as its pillars to combat terror.

The NIA is expected to have special public prosecutors and special courts would be set up to try cases of terror.

Since the Defence of India comes in the first (Central) list, the Centre can enact laws to defend the country.

Under the Constitution, emergency can be imposed in a limited area and Defence of India Rules can be invoked in the area to deal with an extraordinary situation.

The Unlawful Activities Prevention Act and Defence of India Rules were used to frame the bill to create the proposed agency and the two, along with the Explosives Act, would be used to make the functioning of the new agency effective.

Parliament last week adopted a resolution against the Mumbai attacks with the government spelling out various steps to deal with terrorism including setting up of NIA.

Outlining steps to gear up the security system to meet the 'unprecedented threat', the prime minister has said the government would set up NIA, decentralise NSG, form more commando units, strengthen coastal security and step up air surveillance.

The draft of the new law was finalised by the Law Ministry in consultation with the Home Ministry to deal more effectively with the scourge in the wake of the Mumbai terror attacks.

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