ISSUE OF AFSPA
The Act continues to be in force in Assam, Manipur (except the Imphal municipal area), Nagaland and three districts of Arunachal Pradesh (Tirap, Changlang and Longding).
In Manipur and Assam, the Act is in force on the express recommendation of the respective state governments which have concurrent powers to declare the state or parts of it as a disturbed area under the AFSPA.
ARGUMENTS FAVOURING AFSPA APPLICATION:
The AFSPA is applied to an area only when the ordinary laws of the land are found to be inadequate to deal with the extraordinary situation perpetrated by insurgents spreading terror.
It is applied when, in the terror-stricken area, the police force is found wanting and incapable of dealing with the terrorists and, thus, the induction of the army becomes imperative to battle the terrorists and maintain the territorial integrity of the country.
Insurgent movements in India have more or less been proxy-wars being waged against India by external actors and this necessitates the deployment of armed forces in a counter-insurgency role with enhanced legal protection.
The army has, repeatedly, made it clear that it cannot operate without the AFSPA. It needs special powers to tackle homegrown and as well as foreign terrorists.
CRITICISM OF AFSPA
The act fails to protect and uphold human rights; The act reinforces a militarized approach to security which has proved to be not only inefficient but, also counterproductive in tackling security challenges.
The absolute authority vested in the armed forces to shoot on sight based on mere suspicion and for an offence as basic as violating an order.
The power of arbitrary arrest and detention given to the armed forces goes against the fundamental right vested in Article 22, which provides safeguards on the preventive and punitive detentions.
The greatest outrage against AFSPA is due to the immunity given to the armed No prosecution, suit or another legal proceeding shall be instituted except with the previous sanction of the central government. This immunity which protects and facilitates the armed forces to take unwarranted decisions at times is clearly questionable.
B P JEEVAN REDDY COMMITTEE: In 2005 the killing of Thangjam Manorama by the Assam Rifles in Manipur triggered widespread protests and outrage against the enforcement of AFSPA and as a follow up the government set up the Jeevan Reddy Commission to review AFSPA.
The committee recommended that Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958, should be repealed.
The committee was also of the view that the act is too sketchy and inadequate in several particulars.
The committee also said that AFSPA–that gives sweeping powers to and often confers immunity on security forces – must be reviewed. Security forces must be brought under the purview of ordinary criminal law rather than under army law..
It also noted that AFSPA had become “an object of hate and an instrument of discrimination and highhandedness’’.
The government should consider the imposition and lifting of AFSPA on a case by case basis and limit its application only to few disturbed districts instead of applying it for the whole state.