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AICC gen secy backs Baghel govt move: NIA Act has undergone drastic change after amendment, says PL Punia

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A day after the Congress government in Chhattisgarh approached the Supreme Court to challenge the Constitutional validity of National Investigation Act, 2008, enacted by the then UPA government, the party’s central leadership on Thursday said the Bhupesh Baghel government had taken a “lead in the right way”. He said it was “high time” all other state governments “unite” and approach the apex court against the law.

Asked about a Congress dispensation challenging an Act enacted by the Congress-led UPA government, AICC general secretary in-charge of Chhattisgarh P L Punia told The Indian Express that the NIA Act has undergone a “drastic change” after it was amended last year. “It is no more the same Act. After the amendment by the NDA government, it no longer remains the same NIA. It has undergone a drastic change. That is why it has been challenged and rightly challenged.”

Punia pointed out that the Congress had opposed the amendments in both Houses of Parliament, arguing that it was an attempt to make India a police state. “Earlier, the provision was that the state government was supposed to be consulted. It was mandatory to consult the Director General of Police…,” he said.

“After the amendment of the NIA Act, NIA has been converted into a parallel investigating agency, as a parallel police structure. This has never been the intention of the law passed for creation of NIA by the UPA government. And now after the amendment by the Modi government, it has lost relevance and it has gone against the federal structure of the Constitution. I think it is high-time all state governments must unite and approach the Supreme Court. The Chhattisgarh government has taken a lead in the right way and challenged this step taken by the NDA government,” Punia said.

While Punia said the NDA government had introduced drastic changes to the Act, the original Act of 2008 gave the NIA powers to supersede the state police in the investigation and trial of terror-related offences.

The Chhattisgarh government’s petition too has challenged the original Act and not the amended law. Citing Article 131, the Chhattisgarh government has contended that the NIA Act is ultra vires the Constitution and beyond the legislative competence of Parliament since it empowers the Centre to create an agency for “investigation” which, notwithstanding the NIA, is carried out by the State Police, a subject matter of the State under Entry 2, List II, Schedule 7.

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