Centre files curative plea on AFSPA

15/4/2017 254 Security Issues | Internal Security | View Recent Current Affairs

  • The government has asked the Supreme Court to urgently reconsider its July 2016 verdict which ripped open the cloak of immunity and secrecy provided by the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act of 1958 (AFSPA) to security forces for deaths caused during encounters in disturbed areas.
  • The Supreme Court had held that “there is no concept of absolute immunity from trial by a criminal court” if an Army man has committed an offence.
  • The judgment had held that every death caused by security forces in a disturbed area, even if the victim was a dreaded criminal or a militant or a terrorist or an insurgent, should be thoroughly inquired into to address any allegation of use of excessive or retaliatory force.
  • The judgment came on a plea by hundreds of families in Manipur for a probe by Special Investigation Team.

About AFSPA: Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958

  • The Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act was enacted in 1958 to bring under control what the government of India considered ‘disturbed’ areas.
  • As of now, according to the home ministry, six more states come under the ambit of this law under various conditions.
  • This is applicable in Assam, Nagaland, Manipur (except the Imphal municipal area), Arunachal Pradesh (only the Tirap, Changlang and Longding districts plus a 20-km belt bordering Assam), Meghalaya (confined to a 20-km belt bordering Assam) and Jammu and Kashmir.
  • Section (3) of the AFSPA Act empowers the governor of the state or Union territory to issue an official notification on The Gazette of India, following which the centre has the authority to send in armed forces for civilian aid. It is still unclear whether the governor has to prompt the centre to send in the army or whether the centre on its own sends in troops.
  • Once declared ‘disturbed’, the region has to maintain status quo for a minimum of three months, according to The Disturbed Areas (Special Courts) Act, 1976.
  • The state governments, as in Tripura’s case, can suggest whether the Act is required to be enforced or not. But under Section (3) of the Act, their opinion can still be overruled by the governor or the centre.
  • This act is not uniform in nature. Originally, it came into being as an ordinance in 1958 and within months was repealed and passed as an Act. But, this was meant only for Assam and Manipur, where there was insurgency by Naga militants. But after the northeastern states were reorganized in 1971, the creation of new states (some of them union territories originally) like Manipur, Tripura, Meghalaya, Mizoram and Arunachal Pradesh paved the way for the AFSPA Act to be amended, so that it could be applied to each of them. They may contain different sections as applicable to the situation in each state

 


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