Mains Daily Question
March 26, 2023
The continuation of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act as an instrument protecting Indian territorial interests cannot be disregarded, notwithstanding considerable opposition. Explain.
Introduction: Provide an overview of the AFSPA.
- Mention briefly the resistance to this Act.
- Explain why the AFSPA must continue to exist.
Conclusion: Give a way forward showing AFSPA is not the only solution to address internal security issues.
In 1958, the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Bill (AFSPA) was enacted by Parliament and signed into law by the President in response to rising unrest in the North-Eastern States. It grants the military forces the authority to preserve public order in "disturbed places" by using force or opening fire if they believe a person is breaking the law. In the event of wrongdoing, the armed forces are immune from legal punishment.
Opposition to AFSPA-
- Colonial-era law: The AFSPA is sometimes linked to the Rowlatt Act of the British government because, similar to the Rowlatt Act, any suspected individual may be arrested only on the basis of reasonable suspicion.
- The AFSPA is in violation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Khangjom Manorama case and consequent protests against Assam Rifles reflected this very well.
- The legislation has failed to curb terrorism and restore normality in troubled regions since the number of armed organizations has increased since its inception. Many hold it accountable for the escalating violence in regions where it is in effect.
- It is argued that states themselves should be competent to handle the situation. Rather than spending money on the military, it would be more democratic to upgrade state capabilities.
- The 2005 BP Jeevan Reddy Committee on the Northeast and the 2007 Veerappa Moily Report of the Second Administrative Reforms Commission both recommended that the Act be abolished.
- The Justice Verma Committee (2013) and the Justice Hegde Commission (2013) endorsed addressing the abuses done under the AFSPA and eliminating the security forces' effective impunity. The Hegde Commission (2013) said that all seven killings in the six incidents, it studied, in Manipur were the result of extrajudicial executions.
Need for the AFSPA:
- The Army believes that the AFSPA is extremely necessary to fight domestic insurgency and preserve the nation's frontiers.
- Protection of members of the armed forces - It is essential to empower members of the military forces whose lives are continuously threatened by rebels and extremists. Its absence would negatively affect morale.
- The Act and Army regulations offer necessary protections, as outlined below: - According to Section 5 of the Act, apprehended civilians must be delivered to the closest police station with the "least feasible delay" and a "report of the circumstances that led to the arrest."
- Effective Counterinsurgency: Strong legislation is required to combat insurgent groups inside the nation, especially in Kashmir and the northeastern area.
- The presence of proxy groups in troubled regions necessitates the use of extraordinary means to break this connection. As the armed services confront asymmetric warfare including raids, ambushes, mines, and explosives, extraordinary abilities are also required.
Although AFSPA is required to counter insurgencies, the lack of development in the Northeast region is a major reason for the insurgency. Therefore, the government should take urgent steps to create new opportunities for growth and development. Additionally, AFSPA should be made more comprehensive with elaborate rules with respect to the method of investigating alleged human rights violations to reduce the possibility of misusing it.