National Bytes: Centre gives Elgar case to NIA

Bhima Koregaon Violence

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In News:

  • The Union home ministry transferred the probe to the National Investigation Agency (NIA).
  • This is in light of concern by the center that the probe will be diluted as allies in the new government were seeking the setting up a Special Investigation Team (SIT) to probe the police action in the Elgar Parishad case.

Bhima Koregaon Violence

The Elgar Parishad Case:

  • An Elgar Parishad (an evening programme organized in the city) was organized on December 31, 2017, on the eve of the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Bhima Koregaon by some banned Naxalite groups in Pune.
  • The very next day, caste violence erupted at Koregaon Bhima.
  • Maharashtra police claimed that the speeches made at Elgar Parishad were partly responsible for eruption of violence.
  • The Elgar Parishad case became prominent because of the arrests of some high profile activists and lawyers, some of who are in jail for over a year now.
  • The police claim that the arrested activists had active links to the banned terrorist organization CPI (Maoist) which was engaged in destabilizing the country, and working against national security.
  • Now the Center has suo moto (without permission of Maharashtra government) transferred the case to NIA for investigation.

About: NIA

  • The National Investigation Agency (NIA) is a central agency formed in 2009 in the wake of the 26/11 Mumbai terror attack of 2008.
  • The agency functions as the Central Counter-Terrorism Law Enforcement Agency in India.
  • Thus, it brought under the agency’s ambit offenses under Atomic Energy Act, Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, Anti-Hijacking Act, Suppression of Unlawful Acts against Safety of Civil Aviation 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 and several sections under the Indian Penal Code.

NIA Act 2008:

  • The NIA Act, 2008, provides for a national-level agency (NIA) to investigate and prosecute offences listed in a schedule (scheduled offences).
  • It gives the NIA powers to take suo motu cognisance of terror activities in any part of India and register a case, to enter any state without permission from the state government, and to investigate and arrest people.
  • Further, the Act allows for creation of Special Courts for the trial of scheduled offences.
  • The Act makes NIA the only truly federal agency in the country, along the lines of the FBI in the United States, and more powerful than the CBI

Provisions that let centre to handover cases suo moto to NIA:

  • Section 5 of the NIA Act empowers the union home ministry to take over investigation of a case without permission or recommendations of the state government.

States concerned over the Act:

  • “Police” is a subject in the state list.
  • Many states have protested against various provisions of the NIA Act as they claim it violates the sovereignty of the state governments in the subject of policing.
  • The Chhattisgarh government has become the first state to petition the Supreme Court to declare the National Investigating Agency Act 2008 as unconstitutional.

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