Daily Editorial Analysis for 29th August 2022

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A draconian law that needs to disappear

GS Paper 2: Security Challenges and their Management in Border Areas – Linkages of Organized Crime with Terrorism.
Important For:
Prelims Exam: AFSPA and its provisions
Mains Exam: Should the law like AFSPA be repealed?
The Government’s intent to repeal the law
The statement made by the Prime Minister in April this year, to the people of the North-east to the effect that the Government intends withdrawing the much-dreaded Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act 1958, or AFSPA, completely from the region.

Genesis of the Law: Roots in the British Raj

• The genesis of the law can be traced to the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Ordinance 1942 which was enacted by the British to subjugate the rebels in the country during the Quit India movement, particularly in Assam and Bengal in October 1942.
• The law continues to be enforced in its new format as the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act 1958.

Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA): –

• Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA), 1958 is an act of the Parliament of India that grants special powers to the Indian Armed Forces to maintain public order in “disturbed areas”.
• The Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) in its original form was promulgated by the British in response to the Quit India movement in 1942.
• It was brought for J&K in 1990.

Is the law really required?

• Indubitably, the need for the law was required in the 1950s when Naga insurgents resorted to large-scale violence.
o Hundreds of Indian Army soldiers, central and State paramilitary personnel were either killed or injured in ambushes that had been meticulously planned and launched by the insurgents. Informers of the security forces were eliminated or disabled.
• It is Needed to maintain morale of the forces.
• Insurgents will gain the upper hand in absence of it.
• Troops need such powers because the army is only deployed when national security is at serious risk from armed combatants.

Court’s stand

The Supreme Court in 1998 expressed the following views on AFSPA:
• The state government should be consulted by the central government before making the declaration.
• AFSPA does not confer arbitrary powers to declare an area as a ‘disturbed area.
• The declaration has to be for a limited duration and there should be a periodic review of the declaration after 6 months have expired.
• while exercising the powers, the authorised officer should use minimal force necessary for effective action, and he should strictly follow the ‘Dos and Don’ts’ issued by the army.

Efforts made in the past

• Efforts made in the past to rescind the law have met with failure.
• Former Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram was of the firm opinion that AFSPA should be withdrawn. But stiff resistance from the Defence Ministry which was headed by A.K. Antony scuttled the proposal. The Indian Army offered stiff opposition to any proposal to do away with the much-detested law.

Justice B.P. Jeevan Reddy Commission

• The Justice B.P. Jeevan Reddy Commission that was tasked with reviewing the provisions of AFSPA submitted its report on June 2005 with the recommendation that AFSPA be withdrawn.
• It had recommended making amendments to the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967 (UAPA) to achieve the purpose of AFSPA.

Present status of AFSPA

• AFSPA continues to be in force in:
o Assam
o Manipur
o Nagaland
o Arunachal Pradesh.

There needs to be a review

• There needs to be a comprehensive and serious periodical review undertaken by the Centre till the entire North-east is freed from the AFSPA.
• Investigations into the alleged fake encounters also need to be fast tracked and taken to their logical conclusion.
• If necessary, there needs to be incarceration of the guilty, thereby sending out a clear message that those who murder under the cloak of the uniform of the security forces cannot expect to go scot free if there are violations.[/fusion_text][/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]

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