We are back with another topic on GENERAL AWARENESS and this time its an old ACT that has been in the news often and is again back in the news after most wanted terrorist Burhan Wani was killed in an ongoing encounter in the Anantnag district of Kashmir. All you need to know about AFSPA follows :
Armed Forces (Special Powers) Acts (AFSPA), are Acts of the Parliament of India that grant special powers to the Indian Armed Forces in what each act terms “disturbed areas”. One such act passed on September 11, 1958 was applicable to the Seven Sister States in India’s northeast. Another passed in 1983 and applicable to Punjab and Chandigarh was withdrawn in 1997, roughly 14 years after it came to force. An act passed in 1990 was applied to Jammu and Kashmir and has been in force since.
The Acts have received criticism from several sections for alleged concerns about human rights violations in the regions of its enforcement alleged to have happened. Politicians like P. Chidambaram and Saifuddin Soz of Congress have advocated revocation of AFSPA, while some like Amarinder Singh are against its revocation. Irom Chanu Sharmila who is also known as the “Iron Lady of Manipur” is a civil rights activist, who has been in a hunger strike for nearly 15 years. Her primary demand to the Indian government has been the repeal of the AFSPA.
The Armed Forces Special Powers Ordinance of 1942 was promulgated by the British on 15 August 1942 to suppress the Quit India Movement.
The Armed Forces (Jammu and Kashmir) Special Powers Act, 1990 was enacted on September, 1990.
The Act :
The Articles in the Constitution of India empower state governments to declare a state of emergency due to one or more of the following reasons:
- Failure of the administration and the local police to tackle local issues.
- Return of (central) security forces leads to return of miscreants/erosion of the “peace dividend”.
- The scale of unrest or instability in the state is too large for local forces to handle.
In such cases, it is the prerogative of the state government to call for central help. In most cases, for example during elections, when the local police may be stretched too thin to simultaneously handle day-to-day tasks, the central government obliges by sending in the BSF and the CRPF. Such cases do not come under the purview of AFSPA. AFSPA is confined to be enacted only when a state, or part of it, is declared a ‘disturbed area’. Continued unrest, like in the cases of militancy and insurgency, and especially when borders are threatened, are situations where AFSPA is resorted to.
According to Act 7 of 1972, the power to declare areas as being disturbed was extended to the central government.
In a civilian setting, soldiers have no legal tender, and are still bound to the same command chain as they would be in a war theater. Neither the soldiers nor their superiors have any training in civilian law or policing procedures. This is where and why the AFSPA comes to bear – to legitimize the presence and acts of armed forces in emergency situations which have been deemed war-like.
According to the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA), in an area that is proclaimed as “disturbed”, an officer of the armed forces has powers to:
- After giving such due warning, Fire upon or use other kinds of force even if it causes death, against the person who is acting against law or order in the disturbed area for the maintenance of public order.
- Destroy any arms dump, hide-outs, prepared or fortified position or shelter or training camp from which armed attacks are made by the armed volunteers or armed gangs or absconders wanted for any offence.
- To arrest without a warrant anyone who has committed cognizable offences or is reasonably suspected of having done so and may use force if needed for the arrest.
- To enter and search any premise in order to make such arrests, or to recover any person wrongfully restrained or any arms, ammunition or explosive substances and seize it.
- Stop and search any vehicle or vessel reasonably suspected to be carrying such person or weapons.
- Any person arrested and taken into custody under this Act shall be made present over to the officer in charge of the nearest police station with least possible delay, together with a report of the circumstances occasioning the arrest.
- Army officers have legal immunity for their actions. There can be no prosecution, suit or any other legal proceeding against anyone acting under that law. Nor is the government’s judgment on why an area is found to be disturbed subject to judicial review.
- Protection of persons acting in good faith under this Act from prosecution, suit or other legal proceedings, except with the sanction of the Central Government, in exercise of the powers conferred by this Act.
Hope,the article was helpful.
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PS: The Burhan Wani incident is of utmost importance for SSC-2017 since it is one of the biggest events that took place in recent history.We will update the key facts of the incident in our upcoming posts.Keep a check!
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– Team SSCHacks