Rajya Sabha

July 17, 2019

Derek O’Brien speaks on The National Investigation Agency (Amendment) Bill, 2019

Derek O’Brien speaks on The National Investigation Agency (Amendment) Bill, 2019


Sir, on the one hand you have the wishes of the newly-elected Government of the day and on the other hand, you have the supremacy of the Parliament. On the one hand you have the wishes of the newly-elected Government of the day and on the other hand, you have the integrity of the Parliament forever.

All of us want to fight terror, all of us are on board about the basic issue of fighting terror – there are no two ways about it. But how are we going about legislation in Parliament? That’s what I raised in the first two sentences. In the 14th Lok Sabha, 60 per cent of the Bills were sent for parliamentary scrutiny. In the 15th Lok Sabha, 71 per cent of the Bills were sent for parliamentary scrutiny. In the 16th Lok Sabha, 26 per cent of the Bills were sent for parliamentary scrutiny. In this Lok Sabha, so far 10 Bills but none has been sent for parliamentary scrutiny.

When we send Bills for parliamentary scrutiny – which means scrutinised by the Parliamentary Standing Committees – it is not that we are opposing them. All we are saying is scrutinise them. Otherwise we have two hours discussion here, two hours discussion there, it’s come and gone. The purpose of scrutiny is to make strong Bills stronger. That is not happening.

I made the point about ordinances the last time and the Home Minister quite rightly said that the NDA has done much better than the UPA. My intention though was not to make it NDA versus UPA but to say that four out of 10 Bills should not be Ordinances, you should try to bring that down. This is the first point on the propriety of Parliament.

Secondly, what is the track record of this Government on terrorism, because terrorism is something that goes back a long, long way? Jammu and Kashmir is an example. Terror incidents have gone up by 260 per cent, from 170 to 614. I have the details here from South Asia Terrorism Portal. It says 451 deaths and 1,589 injuries. Then we come to Pulwama. The Governor of Jammu and Kashmir said, “Laparwaiyi huyi hain”. This is a serious issue. It’s not that what we say here is political.

After Pulwama came Balakot. I only want to give a quote about the incident, but no comment on the quote. This is what was said about Balakot: “Experts were re-thinking the airstrike due to bad weather, but then I said so much cloud cover and rains could be beneficial. We can escape their radar. This was my raw wisdom. I said there could be a benefit. Then I said, there’s cloud cover, please go ahead.” This was said by a very high constitutional authority – by the Prime Minister of India.

On terrorism there are two aspects: There is internal terrorism, which we must fight and which we have fought, and external terrorism. Now let’s come to internal terrorism. Which was independent India’s first terrorist act? When someone bought a gun, put some bullets in that gun and at point blank range, shot our beloved Bapu. That’s my interpretation on what was India’s first terrorist act.

But today, that same assassin in these very portals is hailed as a patriot. No Sir, I would like to tell you he was a terrorist and will remain one today, tomorrow and the day after. I come from a State where there was left wing extremism and we have seen development under Mamata Di’s Government over six-seven years and now there is zero terrorism in Bengal. I don’t want to go into left wing terrorism because then I will be tempted to go into right wing terrorism. Intellectuals, journalists killed – that is also right-wing terrorism.

Sir, lets come to the key point of this Bill which we thought could have been improved is the issue of federalism. We can have many interpretations of federalism but I think we should take the direction shown to us by Dr Ambedkar and as he said ‘in normal times our Constitution is framed as federal system, in times of war it is designed to be a unitary system’. So this is the basic point the first speaker from Congress, Vivek ji was making. We you look at Section 6 of this this Bill where all the judges and everyone’s salary is paid the State Government but in effect State Government is by passed in this Bill. The issue on federalism is a cause for concern because two in the schedule list if we look at the Bill are human trafficking and cyber terrorism and if these go back to the central list there is a big chance of a conflict and then the State rights can be usurped.

Sir, I am going to come to this point on Section 4 of the Bill, we studied the Bill in both our houses but never got an answer so I am asking here, what about Pakistan? Because there is bilateral which is mentioned in the Bill, there is international court whose signed the treaty so my question through you Sir, will Pakistan sign the treaty? I know they cannot answer on behalf of Pakistan; that would be foolish of me but that is the biggest problem of the lot. Will Pakistan give us jurisdiction? How have we done on Pakistan? We went to have veg biryani there on a birthday in 2015, we allowed a five member investigation team to come to Pathankot then they went back and said all fault was ours. Internationally also, the old hyphen that existed which had gone away between India-China has now become India-Pakistan. That is an issue and if we want to seriously fight terror, we have to address the Pakistan issue and we want to hear from this government what is the view on Pakistan?

There is a fear and I am sure that the Prime Minister and the Home Minister will understand this because both Prime Minister Modiji and Amitji the Home Minister have both grown out of the federal structure of this country. As the Chief Minister of Gujarat and the Home Minister of Gujarat will be more open to the federal view on this, Sir. Because the critics or the political opponents will say that you already have some allies such as the CBI, ED, and IT… So this must not be another ally because then the National Investigation Agency must do their job and not become the National Interference Agency.

Sir my last point, I started off with a little Indian history of 30st January 1948 but the last point I have is to do with the 15th and 16th of July 2019 because my interpretation is different from what I heard from the Home Minister, so he is here today I am sure he will clarify and I quote “The allegation made was that TADA that is the Terrorist and Disruptive Activities Act or POTA Prevention of Terror Act was repealed not because of misuse but to save a vote bank.

BJP’s very learned and very respected former Deputy Prime Minister on record said “There should be no use of POTA”, as he said this in 2003 and he warned state governments and two Chief Ministers not to wheel this law against political rivals and the BJP then instituted a committee to investigate because it was a political rival. Sir, we are all there when it comes to terror, as terror has no religion, and I will end with one quote, this was said two years ago, “Terrorism in any form must be defeated. Humanity is about spreading peace and harmony”: Mamata Banerjee.

Thank you, Sir.