Verma panel not first to seek AFSPA review
Past Recommendations Of Official Committees Gather Dust
Srinagar, Jan 29: While Justice J S Verma committee’s proposal for reviewing Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) has renewed the debate on revoking the controversial law, several panels constituted by Government of India in past have also called for scrapping or reviewing the Act.
The recommendations of these panels strengthen the case of votaries of AFSPA revocation even as Ministry of Defence and Army is opposing repeal or review of the law.
One of the Working Groups set up by Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh in 2006 had favored review of the Act. The Working Group on confidence building measures headed by the then National Minorities Commission chief and incumbent Vice-President Muhammad Hamid Ansari had favoured discontinuation of the law.
“Certain laws made operational during the period of militancy (e.g. 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 Working Group recommended.
The group of three interlocutors assigned with the task of finding political settlement of Kashmir issue also recommended review of the law along with amendments in Public Safety Act. While discussing the issue of AFSPA imposed in Jammu and Kashmir since ’90s, the interlocutors said their impression is that AFSPA is more the symbol of a problem than its cause. “But symbols are important for peace processes, and thus the Ministry of Defence needs to consider how to respond positively to this issue rather than negatively,” the group said while referring to the insistence of the Ministry on continuation of the Act.
ADMINISTRATIVE REFORMS COMMISSION:
The 2nd Administrative Reforms Commission which was set up in 2005 had also suggested repealing of the Act while suggesting that the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act be bolstered with a provision to enable the armed forces to operate in conflict zones.
JUSTICE JEEVAN REDDY COMMITTEE:
The five-member committee under the chairmanship of Justice B P Jeevan Reddy, former judge of the Supreme Court, had also recommended repealing of the Act.
“The Act is too sketchy, too bald and quite inadequate in several particulars,” the Committee had said in its report, adding, “It is true that the Hon’ble Supreme Court has upheld its constitutional validity but that circumstance is not an endorsement of the desirability or advisability of the Act.”
The cry for repeal of AFSPA in J&K has received a boost in the backdrop of the recent recommendations of Justice J S Verma panel. The judicial panel, tasked to review the existing laws on crimes against women in the wake of protests over gang-rape of a physiotherapy student in New Delhi last month, has called for amendment in the section (6) of AFSPA to pave way for prosecution of soldiers involved in crimes against women in civil courts.
“Provided that, no sanction shall be required if the person has been accused of committing an offence under Section 354, Section 354A, Section 354B, Section 354C, Section 376(1), Section 376(2), Section 376(3), Section 376A, Section 376B, Section 376C, Section 376D, Section 376D or Section 376E of the Indian Penal Code-1860,” the panel has recommends.
The Government of India has ignored all these recommendations till date, given the resistance by Defense Ministry and Army.
Lastupdate on : Tue, 29 Jan 2013 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Tue, 29 Jan 2013 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Wed, 30 Jan 2013 00:00:00 IST
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