Official, unofficial panels recommend withdrawal of Act
Srinagar, Oct 28: While the proposed revocation of Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) has triggered spar between ruling National Conference and Congress, several official and unofficial panels have, from time to time, recommended repeal of the controversial law.
Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958, gives special powers to the Army and other central forces operating in Jammu and Kashmir. Section 4, Clause a, b of the Act says even a non-commission officer can enter a house, search and can arrest without any warrant and can even shot on mere suspicion. No penal action can be taken up against the forces without sanction of the Central Government.
The panels including Prime Minister’s Working Group on Kashmir has strongly disfavoured its continuation.
The first Working Group on Confidence Building Measures (CBMs) under then National Minorities commission chairman and present vice-president Muhammed Haamid Ansari has recommended revocation of AFSPA.
In its recommendations, the WG has said, “Certain laws made operational during the period of militancy (Armed Forces Special Powers Act/Disturbed Areas Act) impinge on fundamental rights of citizens and adversely affect the public. They should be reviewed and revoked. Law and order matters should be dealt with, to the maximum extent possible, through normal laws”.
The recommendation of the panel were submitted at third Roundtable Conference in New Delhi .The Centre then constituted a committee under Home Secretary with representatives of both union and state governments to review the implementation of the recommendations made by the WG, but no follow-up action was taken up to repeal the law.
PANELS IN DEFENCE MINISTRY
During 2007, in the wake of the demand by Peoples Democratic Party, New Delhi announced formation of three committees to bail-out its chief minister Ghulam Nabi Azad here. They constituted an expert panel headed by then defence secretary Shekhar Dutt to look into troop deployment and determine whether there was need to relocate them, and also announced a special committee for reviewing the application of AFSPA in different parts of state. The Centre had also announced that another panel headed by Defence Minister AK Antony will look into the suggestions of both committees. Though, Dutt himself visited JK to asses the ground situation, but nothing happened except removal of troopers from some schools. The fate of other panel to review AFPSA is still not known.
PARALLEL PANELS BY JK GOVT
With the Centre failing to arrive at any decision on revoking AFSPA from parts of Jammu and Kashmir during last year’s unrest to defuse the situation, they threw the ball into the state’s court, asking them to review the Disturbed Areas Act (DAA). In the wake of centre’s direction, the state government formed two panels headed by Principal Secretary Home BR Sharma. Other members of the panel included GOC 15 Corps, Director General of Police and Special DG CRPF (special invitee), while Army was represented by GOC 16 Corps. The panels are yet to submit their recommendations, if one goes by the reply submitted by state government in the Legislative Assembly last month.
The three member team of interlocutors- journalist Dilip Padgaonkar, academician Radha Kumar and former civil servant MM Ansari - appointed by Home Ministry in the wake of last year’s unrest, in which 120 youth were killed by forces, have reportedly recommended revocation of AFSPA. Although the excerpts of final report are yet to be in public domain, one of the interlocutors has said that they have called for revoking the Act in one of their interim reports. The interlocutors submitted the interim reports to Home Ministry after every visit to JK.
TWO OTHER NON-KASHMIR COMMITTEES
Two other committees, not related with Kashmir, have also favoured AFSPA abrogation. The Committee to Review the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958 setup by the Union Home Ministry led by Justice Jeevan Reddy, a former Judge of the Supreme Court and the Second Administrative Reforms Commission, headed by the former union law minister, Veerappa Moily favoured its repeal.
There was also a direction from the Supreme Court of India in the year 1998 which stressed for reviewing the Act after every six months.
Lastupdate on : Fri, 28 Oct 2011 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Fri, 28 Oct 2011 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Sat, 29 Oct 2011 00:00:00 IST
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