National Investigation Agency
National Investigation Agency (NIA) is a federal agency established by the Indian Government to combat terror in India. It acts as the Central Counter Terrorism Law Enforcement Agency. The agency is empowered to deal with terror related crimes across states without special permission from the states.
The Agency came into existence with the enactment of the National Investigation Agency Act 2008 by the Parliament of India on 31 December 2008.
NIA was created after the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks as need for a central agency to combat terrorism was realised.
NIA has concurrent jurisdiction which empowers the Centre to probe terror attacks in any part of the country, covering offences, including challenge to the country’s sovereignty and integrity, bomb blasts, hijacking of aircraft and ships, and attacks on nuclear installations.
Other than offenses of terrorism, it also deals with counterfeit currency, human trafficking, narcotics or drugs, organised crime (extortion mobs and gangs), plane hijacking and violations of atomic energy act and weapons of mass destruction act.
The Agency has been empowered to conduct investigation and prosecution of offenses under the Acts specified in the Schedule of the NIA Act.
A State Government may request the Central Government to hand over the investigation of a case to the NIA, provided the case has been registered for the offenses as contained in the schedule to the NIA Act.
Central Government can also order NIA to take over investigation of any scheduled offense anywhere in the India.
Officers of the NIA who are drawn from the Indian Revenue Service and the Indian Police Service have all powers, privileges and liabilities which the police officers have in connection with investigation of any offense.
Various Special Courts have been notified by the Central Government of India for trial of the cases registered at various police stations of NIA under the NIA Act 2008. Any question as to the jurisdiction of these courts is decided by the Central Government. These are presided over by a judge appointed by the Central Government on the recommendation of the Chief Justice of the High Court with jurisdiction in that region.
Supreme Court of India has also been empowered to transfer the cases from one special court to any other special court within or outside the state if the same is in the interest of justice in light of the prevailing circumstances in any particular state. They are empowered with all powers of the court of sessions under Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 for trial of any offense.
An appeal from any judgment, sentence or order, not being an interlocutory order, of a Special Court lies to the High Court both on facts and on law. Such an appeal is heard by a bench of two Judges of the High Court.
At present there are 38 Special NIA Courts. State Governments have also been empowered to appoint one or more such special courts in their states.
Sources: The Hindu, Wiki, http://www.nia.gov.in/.
“Mautana” or monetary compensation is a tradition where the victim’s family receive a settlement when one of their own passes away from the accused family. It is a custom started by a Tribal Community in Rajasthan. It is imposed as a social-penalty, (mostly in accidental death-cases), heavy cash-fine is imposed on the culprit/s in favor of family of victim and his community.
“Mautana,” for death, started with the noble intention of providing relief to the victim’s family. The meaning of the word mautana is Money against Death.
This age-old tribal criminal justice system is being misused by unscrupulous elements and this is causing law-and-order problem in the Mewar region of Rajasthan. For moneylenders, it is good business since the compensation is often huge, making the accused borrow from them. The money will be in the range of Rs. 5,000 to Rs. 15 lakh depending on the social status of the dead and the accused.
Though it is a Bhil tribal tradition, Mautana has been adopted by various communities in the region. Among the Bhil tribes, a person or a family used to be pronounced as an accused just because the body of the victim was found in their property — be it a house, farm or well — even if it is a case of natural death, suicide or accident. If a woman died in her natal house, her in-laws would demand “Mautana” from her parents.
The family or the community would not cremate the body even for days together until its demand was met. If the family was unable to pay, the victim’s side would simply destroy its property, forcing it to migrate from the village in what is known as Chadhotra.
Unfortunately, what was confined to tribal communities in remote areas, where there is no interface with the government, has been adopted by other communities as well. Most of these cases go unreported, or even if the police take cognisance of them, “Mautana” and the legal system run parallel.
Sources: The Hindu, Wiki.
Essential Commodities Act
The Essential Commodities Act (ECA) was enacted by the Central Government in 1955 to control and regulate trade and prices of commodities declared essential under the Act.
The Act empowers the Central and state governments concurrently to control production, supply and distribution of certain commodities in view of rising prices. The measures that can be taken under the provision of the Act include, among others, licensing, distribution and imposing stock limits. The governments also have the power to fix price limits, and selling the particular commodities above the limit will attract penalties. Black marketing of essential commodities was a major problem in the past and this has now been controlled to a large extent. The Drug Price Control Order (DPCO) and such other orders have been issued under the powers of the ECA.
Some of the major commodities covered under the act are:
- Petroleum and its products, including petrol, diesel, kerosene, Naphtha, solvents etc
- Food stuff, including edible oil and seeds, vanaspati, pulses, sugarcane and its products like, khandsari and sugar, rice paddy
- Jute and textiles
- Drugs- prices of essential drugs are still controlled by the DPCO
- Fertilisers- the Fertiliser Control Order prescribes restrictions on transfer and stock of fertilizers apart from prices
The Act empowers the Centre to order states to impose stock limits and bring hoarders to task, in order to smoothen supplies and cool prices. Generally the Centre specifies upper limits in the case of stock holding and states prescribe specific limits. However in case there is a difference between states and the Centre, the act specifies that the latter will prevail.
Food and civil supply authorities execute the provisions of the Act.
Sources: http://www.business-standard.com/, consumeraffairs.nic.in.
Under Part XXI of the Indian constitution, which deals with “Temporary, Transitional and Special provisions”, Article 370 is a temporary provision granting special autonomous status to J&K.
This implies that Concurrence of the state government is required in all matters except for Defence, Foreign Affairs, Communications and ancillary matters (matters specified in the instrument of accession). Thus the state’s residents live under a separate set of laws, including those related to citizenship, ownership of property, and fundamental rights, as compared to other Indians.
Similar protections for unique status exist in tribal areas of India including those in Himachal Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, Andaman & Nicobar Islands and Nagaland.
Article 370(3) says that:
“Notwithstanding anything in the foregoing provisions of this article, the President may, by public notification, declare that this article shall cease to be operative or shall be operative only with such exceptions and modifications and from such date as he may specify:
Provided that the recommendation of the Constituent Assembly of the State referred to in clause (2) shall be necessary before the President issues such a notification”.
Jammu and Kashmir has no Constituent Assembly now. Hence the question arises as to how the article can be amended or removed from the Indian Constitution.
Some argue that the President may, by public notification under article 370(3), declare that Article 370 shall cease to be operative and no recommendation of the Constituent Assembly is needed as it does not exist any longer. Others say it can be amended by an amendment Act under Article 368 of the Constitution and the amendment extended under Article 370(1).
p style=”text-align: right”>Sources: The Hindu, Wiki, jammu.nic.in/.