NEW DELHI: The National Investigation Agency (NIA), which was established as India’s nodal agency to investigate and prevent terror-related incidents after the infamous 26/11 Mumbai attack, has been inundated with cases, leading to investigation being delayed into several old cases.
This has led to concern among present and former NIA officers that the agency might lose its sheen because of too many things on its platter, something that has happened with the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) too.
After coming into existence on 31 December 2008, the NIA, until 2014, was entrusted with 92 cases, which roughly amounted to 15 cases every year.
However, from 2015 to 2019, it got 183 cases, with 162 cases being handed over to the NIA in the last four years (2016-2019).
As of the end of 2019, the NIA is still investigating 128 cases. The majority of these cases (118) have been given to the NIA in 2017, 2018 and 2019.
“The NIA was raised as a specialised force and that is why, during its initial days, it got select ‘big’ cases and was able to investigate them within a given time period, to everyone’s satisfaction. In many cases, the NIA itself would tell the court that there was no case against the accused as it devoted a good amount of time in investigating the case and then reached a particular conclusion. However, now, it is getting one new case roughly every 10 days, and this is bound to affect the working of the agency,” an official source said.
In 2009, the NIA registered FIRs in eight cases. In seven of these eight cases, in which it registered the FIR, judgement has been delivered. The Mumbai attack case is still classified as “under further investigation” as the accused are hiding in Pakistan.
Of the 11 FIRs it registered in 2010, investigation has been done and charge-sheet has been filed in 10 cases. The NIA registered 16 FIRs in 2011, the investigation in all these cases has been completed. Similarly, in 2012, it registered FIRs in 16 cases; in all these cases except one, investigation has been completed. One case involving Babar Khalsa is still under investigation. The agency filed 27 FIRs in 2013 and in all these cases, investigation has been completed.
In 2014, the agency was asked to investigate 14 cases. In all the cases registered in 2014, investigation has been completed. It filed FIRs in 21 cases in 2015, out of which investigation in all the cases, except in one, has been completed.
It was in 2016 that the cases that NIA was asked to investigate, started growing. It registered 34 FIRs in that year, out of which eight are still under investigation. In 2017, it was asked to investigate 36 cases, out of which 26 are under investigation.
In 2018, it registered FIRs in a whopping 58 cases; all of them are still under investigation. In 2019, it was asked to investigate 34 cases, and not surprisingly, all the 34 cases are still classified as “under investigation”.
So the agency, which only had five cases “under investigation” between 2009 and 2015 out of a total 113 cases that it was asked to investigate during that time period, is now dealing with 128 cases “under investigation” as of the end of 2019.
Of the 270 odd cases that the NIA has so far investigated, judgement has been pronounced in 22 cases, partial judgement has come in nine cases, trial has begun in 17 cases, trial is yet to be scheduled in one case, investigation has been completed in 11 cases and closure has been filed in 12 cases. As many as 75 cases have been classified as “under further investigation” while three cases have been transferred to other agencies.