"There is no doubt that killings and human rights violations have occurred due to AFSPA but the problems posed by an array of internal and external agents necessitate an act with teeth to deal with them."Critically discuss in the light of various concerns raised against the act.
AFSPA provides special powers to the Indian Armed Forces to deal with “disturbed areas”. The power to declare an area as disturbed under the act lies with Central government or state government or Governor of the state or lieutenant governor or administrator of union territory.
There are allegations of human rights violations by the armed forces and the provisions of AFSPA providing blanket immunity for the armed forces. Some of the controversial provisions of the act include
- Act authorizes armed forces to use power even to extent of causing death in case of person violating the law.
- Power to arrest individuals without warrant on ground of reasonable suspicion.
- Provision to enter and search premises without any warrant.
- Legal immunity for acts done by armed forces against anything done in the ambit of controlling disturbance.
These provisions were incorporated to provide for a free hand for armed forces in controlling disturbances and aid them in restoring normalcy. But there are reports of abuse of these provisions by the members of armed forces to harass individuals and to conduct fake encounters. The instances of abuse have been reported by NHRC and Justice Santosh Hegde committee. As a result even the state governments are requesting for the withdrawal of AFSPA.
But the threats India is facing in Jammu and Kashmir or North-east is existential. The groups often with support from external actors are posing threat to internal and external security of the country. In order to operate in these adverse circumstances armed forces need special powers.
Hence there is a need to relook into controversial provisions under AFSPA. Justice Santosh Hegde committee appointed by Supreme Court said that AFSPA is necessary for ensuring of peace in north-east and Kashmir, but there must be review every six months.
With great power comes great responsibility, therefore there needs a transparent accountability process to ensure the accountability for the acts done by armed forces under AFSPA.