Governor, not CM has last word: Union Law Ministry
AFSPA REVOCATION ROW
New Delhi, Nov 23: The debate on who will have the final word on lifting the Disturbed Areas Act (DAA) - the carrier for controversial Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) - from Jammu and Kashmir intensified with the Union Law Ministry saying the Governor can overrule the recommendation of the state government.
Who has the power to remove DAA from a particular area which is a prerequisite to withdrawal of AFSPA? This question had resulted in the Union Home and Law Ministries locking horns as they differed in their views on the issue.
Attorney General G E Vahanvati has opined that the Governor alone has the power to remove DAA from any area. The AG came into picture after the Union Home Ministry had sought his views in the matter following the Union Law Ministry’s opinion that Governor alone cannot take any decision which should only be taken by him only after consulting the elected Chief Minister.
Vanhanvati reportedly conveyed his views to the Home Ministry which has been grappling to find a way out of the impasse created by Chief Minister Omar Abdullah’s public pronouncements on partial withdrawal of the AFSPA. In this regard, the AG has reportedly cited a number of Supreme Court judgements in support of his contention that Governor has the statutory authority to remove DAA, Home Ministry sources said.
Law Minister Salman Khurshid confirmed that the senior Law Officer’s opinion was sought particularly after the CBI and the Army had stuck to their views and gave different interpretations of AFSPA while arguing the case before the Supreme Court. Later, the perceptive differences cropped up between the Home and the Law Ministries also.
Despite Vanhanvati’s clear view on DAA, it may become difficult for the Centre to act on it as the Governor’s direct intervention could have adverse impact in Jammu and Kashmir. There is a feeling in certain sections of the UPA Government that taking such an action by the Governor, when an elected government was in place, could be seen as the Centre’s direct interference in the state’s matter, a charge that the Centre had to often face in the past.
Both Governor NN Vohra and Chief Minister Omar Abdullah have had series of meetings with the Central leaders and army officials during the past fortnight to resolve the issue. While the latter made a strong case for selective withdrawal of AFSPA, Vohra had been making efforts to find a middle ground. This had resulted in the debate on as to who has power to remove the DAA – which lays the ground for imposition of AFSPA.
The latest debate over AFSPA revocation from parts of Jammu and Kashmir was generated by Chief Minister, Omar Abdullah on October 21, when at a police function near Zewan, he declared that the controversial law would be removed from parts of the state “within days”.
On October 25, Omar told a Delhi-based news channel that a decision on AFSPA revocation would be taken before the civil secretariat and other move offices close in Srinagar on October 28 for annual Durbar move to Jammu.
Senior NC leader and Chief Minister’s uncle Dr Sheikh Mustafa Kamaal added a new disquieting dimension to the AFSPA revocation controversy when he blamed the army for orchestrating successive grenade attacks across the Valley on October 25 to scuttle the revocation of the Law from some parts of the state.
However, it was widely believed that a decision on partial revocation of the controversial law would be taken in the state cabinet meeting held here on October 28.
But, after state Congress and the Army opposed the move tooth and nail, Omar said the issue would be discussed in November after move offices open in Jammu.
“It never came as a proposal (in the cabinet meeting on Oct 28). So how can it be deferred? It was always slated to be discussed formally in Jammu once offices open,” Omar tweeted on micro-blogging site Twitter on October 29.
To pacify his coalition partner Congress and the armed forces, the Chief Minister also stated that he had only made public his “intention” and not any “decision” on partial revocation of AFSPA.
Union Home Minister P Chidambaram, on October 31 said that there was nothing “unusual” in Omar’s announcement on partial removal of AFSPA from the state as “the move is part of the decisions taken by the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) last September.”
The Unified Headquarters meeting held in Jammu on November 9 again failed to arrive at a decision on the sticky issue as army is believed to have came out openly against the move to partially revoke AFSPA from the state.
On November 10, Omar said in Srinagar that a decision on the issue would be taken after the official panels set-up for the purpose submit their report putting the ball again in army’s court. Omar, however, put a rider that “no” is not an option on AFSPA revocation.
The Defence Minister AK Antony on November 11 added a new angle to the raging issue, when he said that the Unified Headquarters in J&K and not the Chief Minister would decide on AFSPA revocation.
On November 13, Omar rushed to New Delhi to meet the central leaders including UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi, Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, Defence Minister AK Antony, Home Minister P Chidambaram and Army Chief Gen VK Singh to garner support for his AFSPA revocation move.
On his return from Delhi, Chief Minister told reporters in Jammu on Nov 19 that there was ample scope to go ahead with the move (AFSPA revocation) while addressing the concerns of the Army.
On November 21, Omar told a public meeting at Anantnag that while he was on the right track on AFSPA revocation, he won’t set any deadline for the removal of the law from the state. He also said that on AFSPA he was only adhering to the decision taken by CCS last September.
Lastupdate on : Wed, 23 Nov 2011 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Wed, 23 Nov 2011 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Thu, 24 Nov 2011 00:00:00 IST
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