National Investigation Agency – UPSC

National Investigation Agency (NIA) was set up in 2009 under the National Investigation Agency Act of 2008. It’s the central counter-terrorism law enforcement agency of the country. NIA works under the administrative control of the Union Ministry of Home Affairs. The State governments extend all assistance and cooperation to the NIA for investigating the offenses specified under the NIA Act.


NIA was created in the backdrop of the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks (popularly known as the 26/11 incident). This incident led to the realization that there is a need for a separate central agency to deal with the terror-related crimes in the country. While introducing the NIA Bill, 2008 in the Parliament, the Indian government gave the following reasons for setting up the NIA:

  • Over the past several years, the country has been the victim of large-scale terrorism sponsored from across the borders. There have been a number of incidents of terror attacks, not only in the military & insurgency-affected areas but also in various parts of the hinterland and major cities.
  • A large number of such incidents founded to have complex international & inter-state linkages and possible connections with other activities like infiltration from across the borders, smuggling of arms & drugs, circulation of fake currency, etc.
  • Keeping all these in view, it was felt that there is a need for creating an agency at the central level, which investigates the offences related to terrorism and creating other acts that have national ramifications.

Second Administrative Reforms Commission (ARC), under the chairmanship of Veerappa Moily, in its report entitled ‘Combating Terrorism‘ (2008), recommended creating such an agency. Several experts committees have also made recommendations to set up such an agency.

After due consideration and examination of the issues involved, the government proposed to enact legislation to make provisions for creating NIA. These provisions are incorporated in the National Investigation Agency Bill of 2008.

Structure of NIA

The Headquarters of NIA is located in New Delhi. It has eight regional offices across India, located at Hyderabad, Mumbai, Lucknow, Kochi, Raipur, Jammu, Kolkata, and Guwahati. In addition, NIA has a separate specialized cell, known as the TFFC cell, which deals with the matters of fake currency notes & terror funding.

NIA is headed by Director-General, appointed by the Central government. He has similar powers exercisable by a Director-General of Police in respect of police forces in a State.

Vision of NIA

  • NIA aims to set the standards of excellence in investigations related to counter-terrorism and other national security matters by developing into a highly trained partnership-oriented workforce.
  • NIA aims at creating deterrence for existing & potential terrorist groups/individuals.
  • NIA aims to be a professional investigation agency thoroughly that matches the best international standards.
  • NIA aims to develop as a storehouse of all information related to terrorism.

Mission of NIA

  • In-depth professional investigation of scheduled offenses by using the latest scientific methods of investigation.
  • Ensure effective and speedy trial.
  • Creating a professional workforce through regular training & best practice exposures.
  • Becoming a professional and result-oriented organization thoroughly that upholds the Indian Constitution & the law of the land and gives utmost importance to the human rights & dignity of the individual.
  • Displaying the scientific temper and spirit of progress while discharging the duties assigned.
  • Inducing the latest technology and modern methods in the activities of the agency.
  • Maintaining cordial relations with the State governments and other law enforcement agencies in compliance with the legal provisions of the NIA Act.
  • Assisting all States and other investigating agencies with the investigation of terrorist cases.
  • Building a database on all information related to terrorism and sharing the available database with the states and other agencies.
  • Studying and analyzing the laws related to terrorism in other countries. Regularly evaluating the adequacy of the existing laws in India and propose changes when necessary.
  • Winning the confidence of Indian citizens through selfless and fearless endeavors.

Functions of NIA

  • It investigates and prosecutes the offenses under various Acts mentioned in the Schedule of the NIA Act.
  • It collects, collates, and analyzes the counter-terrorism investigation and shares the inputs with its sister intelligence agencies.
  • It also assists and seeks assistance from the other investigation & intelligence agencies at the Central and State government levels.
  • NIA takes other such measures which may be necessary for the effective & speedy implementation of the provisions of the NIA Act.

Jurisdiction of NIA

  • NIA has the concurrent jurisdiction to investigate and prosecute:
    • Offences that affect the security, sovereignty, and integrity of India, and friendly relations with the foreign states.
    • Offences under various Acts to implement the international treaties, conventions, resolution of the UNO & its agencies, and other international organizations.
    • Offences against atomic and nuclear facilities.
  • NIA has the power to probe terror attacks, including the hijacking of aircraft & ships, bomb blasts, attacks on nuclear installations, and use of mass destruction weapons.
  • In 2019, the jurisdiction of the NIA Act was extended by the NIA (Amendment) Act of 2019. Consequently, NIA is also empowered to probe the offenses related to counterfeit Indian currency, human trafficking, manufacture or sale of prohibited arms, cyber-terrorism, and explosive substances.

NIA (Amendment) Act, 2019

The various provisions of the National Investigation Agency (Amendment) Act of 2019 are as follows:

  • The Amendment laid down that the provisions of the NIA Act also applied to persons who commit a scheduled offense against Indian Citizens beyond India or affecting India’s interest.
  • It provides the power to the Central Government, with respect to a scheduled offense committed outside India, to direct the NIA to register the case and take up the investigation as if such offense has taken place in India.
  • It provided the NIA officers shall have similar powers, privies, duties, and liabilities being exercised by the police officers in connection with the investigation of the offenses inside & outside India.
  • The Amendment inserted certain new offenses, such as offenses related to human trafficking, counterfeit currency, in the Schedule of the NIA Act.
  • It provided that the Central and State governments may designate Session Courts as Special Courts for conducting the trials of offenses under the NIA Act.

Mandate of NIA

In accordance with Section IV of the NIA Act of 2008, the Central government assigned the cases to the NIA. The cases are investigated by the agency independently. After the investigation of the case, it is placed before the NIA Special courts.

For prosecuting the accused under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967 (UAPA) and certain other scheduled offenses, the agency seeks the sanction of the Central Government. The central government grants the sanction based on the report of the ‘Authority’ constituted under section 45(2) of the UAPA.

NIA is also empowered to deal with terror-related crimes across the States without Special permission from the States.

Terror Funding and Fake Currency Cell (TFFC)

TFFC Cell has been created in the NIA to curb the various aspects of terrorist funding. It conducts a part investigation into terror financing aspects of regular cases investigated by the NIA. It maintains the database of terror financing as well as fake Indian currency notes. It also conducts the verification of the bank accounts of the suspects linked with Naxalite groups.

NIA Special Courts

The Central Government constitute one or more special courts under section 11 & 22 of the NIA Act 2008 for the trial of Scheduled offenses. These special courts are presided by the judge, appointed by the Central Government on the recommendation of Chief Justice of High Court within the jurisdiction of that region. The NIA Special Courts have all the powers of the court of session under the Code of Criminal Procedure 1973 for the trial of any offense.

Any question to the jurisdiction of the Special Court arises, it shall be referred to the central government, whose decision shall be final. In some exceptional cases where it is not feasible to conduct a fair, impartial, and speedy trial, the Supreme Court of India can transfer a case pending before a Special Court to any other Special Court within the State or any other State. Similarly, the High Court has the power the transfer the case pending before a Special Court in the State to any other Special Court within that State.

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