Union home minister P Chidambaram had asserted last week that he would be shortly introducing bills to strengthen legal provisions relating to prevention, investigation, prosecution and punishment of terrorist acts. He had also said that one of the bills would be to enable setting up of the National Investigation Agency, that would have the powers to operate across states. His expectation, Chidambaram had said, was that the house would consider and pass the bills in this session itself.
The three other bills, parliamentary circles said, related to amendments in the National Security Act, Unlawful Activities Prevention Act and the Money laundering bill in which clauses relating to prevent terror funding are to be included. The NIA, that is to be headquartered in the capital, will use these laws primarily while combatting terror. The proposed agency, is also expected to have special public prosecutors and special courts to try cases of terror.
There was initially some debate in political circles on the stand of the states, especially those like Bihar who were sceptic about idea of a national agency on the ground that it would not only dilute the powers of the states but that it could be misused by those in power at the Centre. The opinion of the states, though, will not count much as the agency can be set up without their consent, under Article 246 of the constitution which rules that parliament is paramount and any state law inconsistent with the one passed by parliament can be superceded.
The government has already held consultations with the main opposition BJP on the issue, who is understood to have indicated that they will not come in the way of the anti-terror mechanisms.
The BJP, however, is certain to be dissappointed somewhat as they have been insisting on revival of Pota to tackle terror. Even as new terror law would have provided the BJP with the moral high ground to claim that the government, only to save itself from political embarrassment, had taken recourse to presenting old wine in a new bottle.