The functioning of the National Investigation Agency

GS 3, Govt Policies and Interventions, Linkages of Organised Crime with Terrorism.

The National Investigation Agency (NIA) has taken over the probe into the killing of tailor Kanhaiyya Lal (48) in Rajasthan’s Udaipur over a social media post. The Union Home Ministry has handed over to the agency the investigation of a similarly executed murder of pharmacist Umesh Kolhe (54) at Amravati in Maharashtra on June 21.

What is the NIA?

  • The National Investigation Agency (NIA) is India’s primary counter-terrorism task force.
  • It is a central agency tasked with investigating all offences affecting India’s sovereignty, security, and integrity, friendly relations with foreign states, and offences under statutory laws enacted to implement international treaties, agreements, conventions, and resolutions of the United Nations, its agencies, and other international organisations.
  • These include terrorist activities and their suspected links to crimes such as the smuggling of guns, narcotics, and counterfeit Indian money, as well as infiltration from outside borders. The agency has the authority to search, seize, arrest, and punish people who commit such crimes.

Headquarter: Delhi.

Branches: Hyderabad, Guwahati, Kochi, Lucknow, Mumbai, Kolkata, Raipur, Jammu, Chandigarh, Ranchi, Chennai, Imphal, Bengaluru, and Patna.

Established: December 31, 2008, and began operations in 2009.

About the NIA establishment:

  • Following the November 26, 2008 Mumbai terror assault, the then-UPA administration decided to form the NIA.
  • It was decided that the agency would only deal with the eight laws listed in the schedule, and a balance had been found between the State’s right and the Central Government’s duty to examine the more serious crimes.
  • The NIA has registered 447 instances to date.

What are the scheduled infractions?

The list includes:

  • The Explosive Substances Act,
  • Atomic Energy Act,
  • Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act,
  • Anti-Hijacking Act,
  • SAARC Convention (Suppression of Terrorism) Act,
  • Suppression of Unlawful Acts Against Safety of Maritime Navigation and Fixed Platforms on Continental Shelf Act,
  • Weapons of Mass Destruction and Their Delivery Systems (Prohibition of Unlawful Activities) Act,
  • Relevant offences under the IPC, Arms Act and the IT Act.
  • In September 2020, the Centre authorised the NIA to investigate Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act offences related to terror cases.

Scope of NIA’s jurisdiction:

  • The law under which the agency operates applies throughout India and also to Indian citizens living outside the country;
  • Persons in the service of the government wherever they may be posted;
  • Persons on ships and aircraft registered in India wherever they may be; and
  • Persons who commit a scheduled offence outside of India against an Indian citizen or in the interest of India.

Process of Investigation:

  • Section 6 of the Act provides that state governments may submit cases involving scheduled offences lodged at any police station to the Central government (Union Home Ministry) for NIA investigation.
  • After reviewing the information provided, the Centre can direct the agency to take over the case. State governments are expected to provide the NIA with all necessary support.
  • Even if the Central Government believes that a scheduled offence has been committed that requires investigation under the Act, it may instruct the agency to take up/oversee the investigation on its own initiative.
  • When the Central Government discovers that a scheduled offence has been committed in any location outside India to which this Act applies, it has the authority to order the NIA to register the matter and conduct an investigation.
  • While investigating any scheduled offence, the agency may additionally investigate any other alleged offence committed by the accused if the offence is related to the scheduled offence.

Vision of the Agency:

The NIA’s declared missions are as follows:

  • Conduct a professional investigation into the planned offences using cutting-edge scientific methodologies.
  • Enabling a quick and efficient trial.
  • Developing into a result-oriented and professional organisation that supports the Indian Constitution and the law of the nation and places a premium on human rights and dignity.
  • Developing a professional staff via frequent training and exposure to best practises.
  • Displaying a scientific temperament and a progressive mentality while performing their jobs.
  • Introducing cutting-edge technology and current methodologies into the NIA’s operations.
  • Maintaining amicable connections with the federal and state governments, as well as other law enforcement agencies around the country.
  • Assisting states and other organisations in the investigation of terror-related situations.
  • Create and share a database of all terrorist information with states and other authorities.
  • Analysing terrorism-related legislation in India, assessing them on a regular basis, and recommending any necessary modifications.
  • Gain trust by bold and unselfish efforts.


  • The Agency has been given authority to undertake investigations and prosecutions under the Acts included in the NIA Act’s Schedule.
  • A State Government may request that the Central Government transfer the investigation of a case to the NIA if the case has been registered for the offences listed in the NIA Act’s schedule.
  • The Central Government can also direct the NIA to investigate any scheduled offence anywhere in India. Officers of the NIA chosen from the Indian Police Service and the Indian Revenue Service have all of the powers, privileges, and obligations that police officers have in connection with any investigation.

2019 NIA (Amendment) Act:

In July 2019, the NIA (Amendment) Act 2019 was enacted by Parliament and got presidential assent. This Act significantly modifies the original NIA Act of 2008. The following adjustments are discussed:

  • The amendment also authorises the agency to examine the following new offences:
    • Human smuggling
    • Offenses involving counterfeit cash or bank notes
    • The sale or manufacturing of forbidden weapons
    • Explosive Substances Act of 1908 offences
    • Terrorism through cyberspace
  • The legislation further broadens the NIA’s authority. It now has the ability to examine offences committed beyond Indian territory that are subject to international treaties and local laws of other countries.
  • The amendment also authorises the central government to establish Special Courts to try scheduled offences.
  • As a result, after consultation with the Chief Justice of the High Court, the government will have the authority to designate Sessions Courts as Special Courts (under which the Sessions Court functions).
  • The Act also empowers state governments to establish Special Courts.
  • The government has the authority to appoint more than one Special Court in a given area.
  • There are now 38 Special NIA Courts in the states and 7 in the UTs.
  • The judges of the Special Courts are appointed by the Government of India in collaboration with the High Court Chief Justices of the area.
  • The trials of the NIA Special Courts have precedence over any other court’s trial of the accused.

Courts of Appeal:

  • Under Sections 11 and 22 of the NIA Act 2008, the Central Government establishes one or more Special Courts for the trial of Scheduled Offenses.
  • Composition: A judge chosen by the Central Government on the suggestion of the Chief Justice of the High Court will preside over the Special Court. On the proposal of the Chief Justice of the High Court, the Central Government may appoint an extra judge or judges to the Special Court if necessary.
  • Special Courts’ Jurisdiction:
  • Under the 1973 Code of Criminal Procedure, Special Courts have all the authority of a court of sessions.
  • Any dispute concerning the jurisdiction of any Special Court shall be brought to the Central Government, whose judgement shall be final.
  • In extraordinary instances when it is not possible to conduct a peaceful, fair, impartial, and timely trial, the Supreme Court may transfer a matter pending before a Special Court to any other Special Court within that State or any other State.
  • Similarly, the High Court has the authority to transfer a matter from one Special Court in a State to another Special Court in that State.

Recent Amendments’ Problems:

  • The preservation of public order and police forces are matters of state responsibility under Schedule VII of the Constitution.
  • However, criminal law is included in the concurrent list, and national security is included in the realms of union list.
  • The Central Government is given the ability to delegate to the NIA the investigation of offences including claims of human trafficking, violations of the Explosives Act, and some violations of the Arms Act.
  • However, not every criminal offence in the preceding act constitutes a danger to national security or sovereignty, and as a result, governments have the authority to deal with it.
  • Section 66F of the Information Technology Act is added to the Schedule of Offenses by the Amendment Bill.
  • Section 66F addresses cyber terrorism.
  • However, India lacks a data protection laws and no definition of cyber terrorism.

The NIA Act modification also empowers the agency to investigate crimes committed by individuals against Indian citizens or “affecting the interests of India.”

Intelligence and Investigation Agencies in India:

  • Intelligence Bureau (IB) – Internal Intelligence
  • Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) – External Intelligence – Similar to CIA of US
  • National Technical Research Organisation (NTRO
  • Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA)
  • Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT)
  • National Technical Research Organisation
  • Defence Intelligence Agency
  • Joint Cipher Bureau
  • Directorate of Revenue Intelligence
  • All India Radio Monitoring Service
  • Signals Intelligence Directorate
  • Aviation Research Centre
  • Directorate of Air Intelligence
  • Directorate of Navy Intelligence
  • Directorate of Income Tax (Intelligence and Criminal Investigation)
  • Directorate General of Income Tax Investigation
  • National Investigation Agency – Central agency to combat terrorism
  • Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) – Similar to FBI of US

Other Law Enforcement Agencies:

  • Directorate of Enforcement (DE).
  • Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI).
  • Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB).
  • Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU).

Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act:

The legislation, which was passed in 1967, attempts to effectively combat illegal actions associations in India.

The Act grants the central government unlimited jurisdiction, and if the Centre considers an action to be illegal, it may proclaim it such in an Official Gazette.

  • The death sentence and life imprisonment are the most severe punishments.
  • Both Indian and international nationals can be prosecuted under UAPA.
  • It will apply to offenders in the same way, even if the offence is committed in a foreign country other than India.
  • Under the UAPA, the investigative agency has 180 days after the arrests to file a charge sheet, which can be extended further by informing the court.

According to the 2019 amendments:

  • The Act gives the Director General of the National Investigation Agency (NIA) the authority to approve the seizure or attachment of property when the matter is being investigated by the agency.
  • The Act authorises NIA officials of the rank of Inspector or above to conduct terrorism investigations in addition to those conducted by the state’s DSP, ACP, or higher rank officer.
  • It also featured the option of labelling someone as a terrorist.


  • The term “affecting India’s interests” is vague and can be abused by governments to restrict free speech and expression, in the amendment.
  • Furthermore, the statutes under which the NIA has the jurisdiction to investigate do not include the phrase “affecting the interest of India” as an offence.
  • The government must pave a way for updating the halts underway, and transit a better policy for good governance as well as for the security of the country.


No comments yet. Why don’t you start the discussion?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *