Shah vs Owaisi in Lok Sabha: What is the NIA Amendment Bill all about

Vikash Aiyappa

New Delhi, July 15: Lok Sabha Monday witnessed a spat between Home Minister Amit Shah and AIMIM leader Asaduddin Owaisi, with the BJP chief asserting that he is not frightening anyone but cannot help when someone has fear in their minds.

The verbal duel between the two leaders started during a discussion on the National Investigation Agency (Amendment) Bill, when opposition members including Owaisi started interrupting BJP's Satyapal Singh.

Singh alleged that the then Hyderabad Police commissioner was asked by a political leader of the state to change the course of investigation in a particular case else he could be transferred out.

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He said he is aware of the development as at that time he was Mumbai police commissioner.

Objecting to his claim, Owaisi, a MP from Hyderabad, demanded that Singh should place on table of the House all records related to his claim.

On this, Shah got up from his seat and said treasury members did not disturb opposition members during their speeches so they should also do the same.

Pointing out at Owaisi, Shah said opposition members should have the patience to listen to others point of view.

Owaisi got agitated and asked Shah to not point a finger at him and said he cannot be frightened.
In response, Shah said he is not trying to frighten him and just saying that opposition members should have patience to listen to the counter view.

"When you have fear in your mind then what can I do," he hit back.

The Union Cabinet had cleared a proposal which will give the National Investigation Agency (NIA) more powers. In addition to the NIA Act, there is also a proposed amendment on the cards for the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act. The amendment would allow the NIA to probe cybercrime and also cases of human trafficking.

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The amendment to Schedule 4 of the UAPA will allow the NIA to designate an individual suspected to have terrorist links as a terrorist. Currently, only organisations are designated as terrorist organisations.

The NIA came into existence in 2009 following the Mumbai 26/11 attack. The proposed amendments are under consideration since 2017. The same was proposed to give the agency more teeth and also a wider scope in the wake of fresh challenges emerging.

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