New Delhi, Dec 16: Union Cabinet on Monday, Dec 15 approved the setting up of a National Investigation Agency (NIA) to combat terror. It also decided that necessary amendments be made in the existing law to provide a tough legal framework. An official spokesman said that the Cabinet had an unscheduled meeting in which it gave its approval to the proposal to amend the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967 and the setting up of the NIA.
He said the bills would be introduced in Parliament in the current session. Sources said a proposal for a law with POTA-like provisions was not favoured at the cabinet meeting with most of the ministers from both Congress and its allies, particularly, LJP and RJD were not inclined to it.
H R Bharadwaj, the Union Home Minister said, "such a law might not stand in court." But some were of the opinion that such laws could be misused by the states. Home Minister P Chidambaram said the Centre has its power in such matters, the sources said.
Pranab Mukherjee, the External Affairs Minister was of the opinion that such a law was misused in the past. Chidambaram said a signal should go that the government is serious. The ministers felt the message could well be conveyed by making a federal agency and bringing in the amendments.
The Cabinet also approved a proposal for amendment to the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) 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 paramilitary force that guards state-owned facilities, installations, and undertakings besides airports.
The decision of setting up NIA came in the wake of Nov 26 Mumbai terror attacks. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and P Chidamabaram have told to the Parliament that the government would set up NIA that will probe into terror cases at the federal level.
This proposed amendment will give the central government an edge over the state government ('Law and Order' is a state subject) in case of terrorist attacks like the Mumbai mayhem.
The Opposition, Bharatiya Janata Party has been talking long of the need of a tough anti-terror law like POTA, which the Congress party and government were rejecting. But ever since the Mumbai attacks, the government has also talked of strengthening the legal framework to combat terror.
OneIndia News (With the inputs from Agencies)