AFSPA Current Affairs - 2019
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The Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA) was partially removed from three of nine districts of Arunachal Pradesh but would remain in force in the areas bordering Myanmar.
The State of Arunachal Pradesh had inherited AFSPA since the day of its formation. AFSPA enacted by Parliament in 1958 and was applied to the entire State of Assam and the Union Territory of Manipur. After Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya, Mizoram and Nagaland came into being, the Act was appropriately adapted to apply to these states as well.
Controversial Provisions of AFSPA
- Section 4 of the AFSPA empowers an authorised officer in a disturbed area with certain powers. The authorised officer has the power to open fire at any individual even if it results in death if the individual violates laws which prohibit (a) the assembly of five or more persons; or (b) carrying of weapons. However, the officer has to give a warning before opening fire.
- The authorised officer is also empowered to (a) arrest without a warrant; and (b) seize and search without any warrant any premise in order to make an arrest or recovery of hostages, arms and ammunition.
- AFSPA mentions that individuals who have been taken into custody have to be handed over to the nearest police station as soon as possible. There is no prescribed time limit for detention.
- Prosecution of an authorised officer requires prior permission of the Central government.
Observations made by Various Committees
Justice Santosh Hegde Committee found four out of six deaths it was inquiring in Manipur have similar patterns of cause of death and could be cases of fake encounters.
Justice Santosh Hegde Committee report also concluded that AFSPA has not been able to achieve peace in the Northeast, and on the contrary, it has widened the distance between the people of these areas and the mainland.
J.S. Verma Committee (2012) and the Justice Jeevan Reddy Committee (2005) have found the law arbitrary and have recommended the repeal of AFSPA.
Tags: AFSPA • Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act • Arunachal Pradesh • Assam • J.S. Verma Committee • Justice Jeevan Reddy Committee • Justice Santosh Hegde Committee • Manipur • Meghalaya • Mizoram • Myanmar • Nagaland
Governor of Assam has extended application of Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958 (AFSPA) in the entire state for six more months with immediate effect. For this, it used powers conferred under Section 3 of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958 declaring entire state as ‘Disturbed Area’ upto 6 months or unless withdrawn earlier.
Reason for extension
This decision was taken as precautionary measure to maintain law and order during ongoing National Register of Citizens (NRC) update process during the ongoing National Register of Citizens (NRC) update process. The final draft NRC is likely to be published by end of 2018. In September 2017, Union Home Ministry had delegated to Assam and Manipur Governors power to impose or withdraw AFSPA.
Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA)
AFSPA was enacted in 1958 to bring ‘disturbed’ areas declared under it under control. It empowers both state and central government to declare areas as ‘disturbed’ due to differences or disputes between members of different religious, racial, language or regional groups or castes or communities.
Declaration of Disturbed area: The section (3) of the Act empowers governor of State/UT to issue an official notification in Gazette of India, following which Centre has authority to send in armed forces for civilian aid. Once declared ‘disturbed’, the region has to maintain status quo for a minimum of three months.
Special powers to armed forces: The Act gives special powers to army and state and central police forces to shoot to kill, search houses and destroy any property used by insurgents in disturbed areas. It also provides army personnel with safeguards against malicious, vindictive and frivolous prosecution.
Note: At present, the AFSA has been enforced in 6 states viz. Assam, Nagaland, Arunachal Pradesh (only the Tirap, Changlang and Longding districts plus 20-km belt bordering Assam), Manipur (except Imphal municipal area), Meghalaya (confined to 20-km belt bordering Assam) and Jammu and Kashmir.