AFSPA and Supreme Court
What is the news?
- The Supreme Court said that it was not up to the judiciary but the government to devise a mechanism to uphold human rights in the insurgency hit areas and protect soldiers who served there and acted in the course of duty.
- The Supreme Court has dismissed a petition by 355 Army officers, serving in insurgency hit areas such as Jammu and Kashmir and the north eastern region, against the court’s decision to order a CBI probe into the encounter deaths in Manipur between 2000 and 2012.
- “The fact that 350 soldiers of our country have to pray for this is itself unfortunate,” Solicitor-General Tushar Mehta said, expressing the “full support” of the government to the petition.
What happened before?
- In 2017, Virtually dismantling the AFSPA immunity shield for Army personnel, the Supreme Court, ordered the CBI on Friday to probe 95 alleged fake encounter killings in Manipur that involve the Army, Assam Rifles, CRPF, BSF and police.
What is AFSPA?
- AFSPA came into force in the context of increasing violence in the North-eastern States decades ago, which the State governments found difficult to control.
- To control the situation, The Armed Forces (Special Powers) Bill was passed by both the Houses of Parliament and it was approved by the President on September 11, 1958.
- It became known as the Armed Forces Special Powers Act, 1958.
Some important provision under AFSPA
- AFSPA gives armed forces the power to maintain public order in “disturbed areas”.
- They have the authority to prohibit a gathering of five or more persons in an area, can use force or even open fire after giving due warning if they feel a person is in contravention of the law.
- If reasonable suspicion exists, the army can also arrest a person without a warrant; enter or search a premises without a warrant; and ban the possession of firearms.
Disturbed Areas under AFSPA
- A disturbed area is one which is declared by notification under Section 3 of the AFSPA.
- The Central Government, or the Governor of the State or administrator of the Union Territory can declare the whole or part of the State or Union Territory as a disturbed area.
- As per Section 3 , it can be invoked in places where “the use of armed forces in aid of the civil power is necessary”.
Where is AFSPA in force currently?
- It is effective in the whole of Nagaland, Assam, Manipur (excluding seven assembly constituencies of Imphal) and parts of Arunachal Pradesh.
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