National Investigation Agency (NIA): Objective, Function, Full Form, NIA UPSC

By BYJU'S Exam Prep

Updated on: November 14th, 2023

National Investigation Agency (NIA) is a central counter-terrorism body that is enforced by law in the country. The Central Counter-Terrorism Law Enforcement Agency of India, or NIA, is tasked with looking into every offence that compromises India’s integrity, security, or sovereignty. With a signed decree from the Ministry of Home Affairs, the agency has the authority to handle the investigation of terrorism-related offences across states without the need for special consent from the states.

National Investigation Agency has jurisdiction across the country and can take up cases that have national or cross-border ramifications. The NIA holds significant importance in the UPSC exam as it plays a crucial role in maintaining national security and combating terrorism, which are essential topics in the contemporary global scenario. Candidates should have a comprehensive understanding of the NIA’s functions, powers, and its role in countering terrorism and maintaining law and order. This knowledge is vital for various subjects like Internal Security, General Studies, and Current Affairs, making it an important area of study for the UPSC exam.

National Investigation Agency (NIA)

National Investigation Agency is a statutory body established by the National Investigation Agency Act 2008. It was established in 2009 after the 26/11 Mumbai attacks and has come up as one of the finest agencies to investigate terror-related incidents. It has jurisdiction over the entire country of India, Indian citizens living outside of India, and people on ships registered in India.

National Investigation Agency has the mandate to investigate offenses that challenge the nation’s sovereignty and integrity, such as bomb blasts, hijacking of aircraft and ships, attacks on nuclear installations, and smuggling in counterfeit currency (aimed at damaging the monetary stability of the nation).

NIA Full Form

NIA Full Form is National Investigation Agency. Headquartered in New Delhi, the NIA operates with a comprehensive network of branch offices strategically located in key cities such as Hyderabad, Guwahati, Mumbai, Lucknow, Kochi, Kolkata, Jammu, and Raipur. These branch offices enhance the agency’s reach and facilitate efficient investigations across different regions of India.

As the primary counter-terrorism agency, the NIA operates under the Ministry of Home Affairs and plays a vital role in ensuring national security and stability. With its dedicated and skilled workforce, the NIA plays a significant role in upholding the rule of law, maintaining public safety, and safeguarding the integrity of the nation.

History of National Investigation Agency

National Investigation Agency was established against the backdrop of the 2008 Mumbai terror attack, also known as the 26/11 incident. Due to the absence of any anti-terrorism agency in India, the task of handling the situation was given to the National Security Guard force. Radha Vinod Raju was the NIA’s first director general and held that position until 31 January 2010. Since June 28, 2022, Dinkar Gupta has been the organization’s director-general.

Goals of the National Investigation Agency

Using the most up-to-date investigative technology, a thorough professional investigation of the list of offenses is conducted, and a standard is established to ensure that all cases handled by the NIA are found. The goals of the National Investigation Agency are:

  • Ensuring an effective and speedy trial.
  • Developing into a thoroughly professional, result-oriented organization, upholding the Constitution of India and the laws of the land, giving prime importance to the protection of human rights and the dignity of the individual.
  • Maintaining cordial relations with the governments of states and union territories.
  • While discharging duties, the National Investigation Agency has to display a scientific temper and progressive spirit.
  • Helping all states and other investigation agencies in the investigation of terrorist cases.
  • Winning the confidence of the citizens of India.

Vision of National Investing Agency

National Investigation Agency strives to be a highly competent investigative organization that meets the highest international standards. By creating a highly skilled, team-oriented workforce, NIA hopes to establish benchmarks of excellence in counterterrorism and other national security-related investigations at the national level. Additionally, it seeks to deter current and potential terrorist organizations and individuals. National Investigation Agency aspires to become a repository for all data relating to terrorism.

Requirements of NIA

India has had a number of cross-border terrorist acts over the past few years, including bomb blasts, terrorist assaults, etc., not only in regions where there is insurgency, militancy, or Left Wing Extremism. It has been observed that terrorist acts and bombings are linked to criminal activity, such as the smuggling of drugs, weapons, and bogus Indian currency.

In light of all these circumstances, it was decided that a centralized agency be established to look into threats to national sovereignty and integrity. The creation of such an organization has also been advised by the Second Administrative Reforms Commission.

Functions of the National Investigation Agency

National Investigation Agency is constituted to investigate and prosecute offenses under the various acts mentioned in the NIA Act Schedule. Along with that, it also shares important and confidential pieces of information with other security agencies like RAW and law enforcement units. Following are functions of National Investigation Agency:

  • Investigation of terrorist activities: The NIA is responsible for investigating and prosecuting terrorist activities across the country.
  • Counter-terrorism operations: The agency conducts counter-terrorism operations to prevent and deter terrorist acts.
  • International cooperation: The NIA collaborates with international law enforcement agencies to combat transnational terrorism.
  • Money laundering and financing of terrorism: The NIA investigates cases related to money laundering and the financing of terrorist activities.
  • Witness protection: The agency ensures the safety and security of witnesses involved in terrorism-related cases.
  • Capacity building: The NIA focuses on building the capacity of law enforcement agencies and enhancing their skills to effectively combat terrorism.

Jurisdiction of National Investigation Agency

National Investigation Agency has the authority to conduct investigations and bring cases against offenders under the NIA’s Scheduled Acts. If a case has been registered for one of the offenses listed in the NIA Act’s schedule, a State Government may ask the Central Government to turn the investigation over to the National Investigation Agency. Any listed offense wherever in India may also be subject to a Central Government order for NIA to take over the investigation.

  • All of the authorities, privileges, and obligations that apply to police officers in connection with an investigation of any crime apply to NIA personnel who are drawn from the Indian Revenue Service and Indian Police Service.
  • According to the National Investigation Agency (Amendment) Act 2019, NIA officers will have the authority to look into specified offenses that were committed outside of India, subject to international agreements and local laws of other nations.
  • The National Investigation Agency may be instructed by the central government to examine these cases as if the crime had been committed in India. These matters will fall within the purview of the Special Court in New Delhi.
  • NIA’s jurisdiction was extended in 2019; after 2019, it can probe issues related to human trafficking, cyber terrorism, explosive substances, or counterfeit currency.

NIA Amendment Act, 2019

The National Investigation Agency Amendment Act 2019 provided the provision that NIA is also applied to persons who commit a scheduled offense outside India against Indian citizens or affect the interests of India.

  • The NIA Amendment provided that, in connection with the investigation of offenses, NIA officers would have the same powers, duties, and liabilities as police officers in India or abroad.
  • It empowers the central government to direct the National Investigation Agency to investigate a scheduled offense that was committed outside India and treat it as if it had taken place in India.
  • It has the provision that the central and state governments designate the session court as a special court for trialing offenses under the National Investigation Act.
  • It inserted certain new offenses into the NIA Act schedule.

NIA Smuggling and Terror Funding

National Investigation Agency Amendment Act 2019 also empowered the National Investigation Agency to probe offenses relating to counterfeit currency or banknotes.

  • Terror Funding and Fake Currency Cells (TFFC) have also been created in the NIA to tackle people smuggling and terror funding.
  • An exclusive Left Wing Extremism (LWE) cell was created to tackle the cases of terror financing aspects of Naxalite groups.
  • It is the responsibility of the Ministry of Home Affairs to fulfill the National Investigation Agency’s infrastructure requirements, manpower, and financial support from time to time.

National Investigation Agency – Special Courts

National Investigation Agency (NIA) operates through special courts that have been appointed by the central government to handle specific cases related to terrorism and scheduled offenses. Here is a brief overview of the NIA’s special courts:

  • Appointment and jurisdiction: The central government appoints special courts upon the recommendation of the Chief Justice of the High Court. These courts have the same powers as sessions courts under the Criminal Procedure Code 1973, and handle cases falling within the NIA’s jurisdiction.
  • Additional judges: If necessary, the central government can appoint additional judges to the special courts based on the recommendation of the Chief Justice of the High Court.
  • Jurisdictional matters: The central government has the authority to decide on questions regarding the jurisdiction of a special court, and its decision is final.
  • Transfer of cases: The Supreme Court and the High Court have the power to transfer cases from one special court to another within the state or in any other state, ensuring fair and speedy trials.

Issues in Recent Amendments for NIA

The maintenance of law, public order, and police forces come under the state list under schedule 7 of the Constitution of India. However, criminal law comes under the concurrent list, and national security is kept under the union list.

  • By the Amendment, the National Investigation Agency is empowered by the central government to investigate offenses relating to the human trafficking, manufacturing, or sale of prohibited arms and offensives under the Explosive Act. However, in the above criminal offenses, not everyone threatens India’s sovereignty, security, or integrity; the State can deal with the same.
  • Even though there is no definition of cyber terrorism in India and no Data Protection Act, the amendment has been added to the list of scheduled offenses, section 66(F) of the Information and Technology Act.
  • The National Investigation Agency is empowered by an amendment to investigate crimes that are against Indian citizens or “affect the interests of India.” However, the term “affecting the interest of India” is undefined, and maybe in the future, the government can misuse it to curb the fundamental freedom provided by the constitution of India.


The National Investigation Agency (NIA) was established on December 31, 2008, after passing the NIA Act. NIA is currently India’s primary law enforcement organization charged with combating terrorism.

National Investigation Agency or NIA Act is an important topic under the Internal security section of UPSC Syllabus. It is a Statutory body under the government. Candidates preparing for the UPSC exam must focus on its importance, and the NIA Act, which are the prime topics.

NIA UPSC Questions

Practicing the UPSC previous year’s questions helps a lot in analyzing the question pattern and the important aspects of the National Investigation Agency. Candidates must religiously refer to the past prelims and mains question papers to understand the paper pattern.

Question: Which of the following is correct regarding the National Investigation Agency?(1) National Investigation Agency was established by the NIA Act of 2008, (2) The National Investigation Agency was formed in 2009.

Choose the correct option from the codes given below: (A) 1 only, (B) 2 only, (C) Both 1 and 2, (D) Neither 1 Nor 2

Answer: (C) Both 1 and 2

Question – After NIA Amendment Act 2019. NIA is empowered to investigate under which of the following: (A) Human trafficking, (B) Counterfeit currency or banknotes, (C) Cyber terrorism, (D) Explosive substances

Choose the correct option from the codes given below: (A) 1 and 2 only, (B) 1, 3, and 4 only, (C) 2, 3, and 4 only, (D) All of the above

Answer: (D) All of the above

Question for UPSC Mains: Discuss the role and significance of the National Investigation Agency (NIA) in combating terrorism in India. Highlight its powers, functions, and challenges in maintaining national security.

Question for UPSC Mains: Critically analyze the powers and jurisdiction of the National Investigation Agency (NIA) under the National Investigation Agency Act, 2008. How has the NIA contributed to improving the effectiveness of investigations and prosecution in cases of terrorism and other related offenses?

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