The Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act

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The Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act and Jurisprudence behind the Act

THE Background OF ARMED FORCES SPECIAL POWERS ACT In November 2011, the central government extended the Armed Forces Special Powers Act in J&K for another year. The Act was first imposed in the state in 1990 and since then its term has been extended every year by the unanimous agreement of all concerned agencies. This time around, however, the decision to extend the Act met with some opposition.

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The Intelligence Bureau opposed its extension citing the ‘improved’ security situation in the state where as both the state government and the Ministry of Defence (MoD) strongly supported its extension. Taking the cue from the state government and the army, the central government declared the whole of Assam a ‘disturbed area’ and extended the Act for another year.[1] Similarly in March 2012, the Tripura government extended the AFSPA in the state for another six months.[2] The Act, which was imposed in 1997, is presently fully enforced in 34 police stations and partially in six police stations of the state. In the case of Tripura too the state government opted for the extension of the Act despite clear improvement in the security situation.2 Presently, the Act is in force in Assam, Nagaland, Manipur (except the Imphal municipal area); Tripura (40 police stations); the Tirap and Changlang districts of Arunachal Pradesh and a 20 km belt in the states with a common border with Assam.3 Apart from the Northeast, the AFSPA is also in force in Jammu and Kashmir, which came under its purview on July 6, 1990 as per the Armed Forces (Jammu and Kashmir) Special Powers Act of 1990. Earlier, Punjab was also brought under the Act through the Armed Forces (Punjab and Chandigarh) Special Powers Act of 1983. The AFSPA is imposed in areas affected by internal rebellion, insurgency or militancy. Since it is a common practice in the country to deploy the armed forces to quell such unrest, this Act provides the armed forces with an enabling environment to carry out their duties without fear of being prosecuted for their actions. Genesis of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958 The origins of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958 can be traced to the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act of 1948. The latter in turn was enacted to replace four ordinances—the Bengal Disturbed Areas (Special Powers of Armed Forces) Ordinance; the Assam Disturbed Areas (Special Powers of Armed Forces) Ordinance; the East Bengal Disturbed Areas (Special Powers of Armed Forces) Ordinance; the United provinces Disturbed Areas (Special Powers of Armed Forces) Ordinance—invoked by the central government to deal with the internal security situation in the country in 1947.[3] The Armed Forces Special Powers Act of 1948, as a matter of fact,

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