Unveiling the Armed Forces Special Powers Act

Date01 July 2016
Published date01 July 2016
DOI10.1177/0019556120160313
UNVEILING THE ARMED FORCES SPECIAL
POWERS ACT
MINUJHA
The
Armed
Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA), 1958, has
consistently remained a contentious issue earning epithets
such as 'draconian'
and
'black
law'
over the years. The
North-Eastern state
of
Manipur, in fact, became the first
testing ground
for
the AFSPA
and
has remained imposed
for
decades. Use or rather misuse
of
repressive laws like these by
any democracy needs serious contemplation. The article
in
the
stated background looks at the AFSPA through the established
democratic notions
of
upholding the supremacy
of
the judiciary
and
primacyof
the rule
of
law.
Jn
doing so, it discusses
in
detail
the various provisions
of
the Act
and
the human rights abuses.
In the latter half, it unfolds the role
of
civil society, political
parties
and
the judiciary in affirming their demand
for
the
review
or
repeal
of
the Act.
INTRODUCTION
THE HISTORY
of
the AF
SPA
goes back to 1958 when an ordinance entitled
the Armed Forces (Assam and Manipur) Special Powers Ordinance, 1958,
was promulgated by the President
of
India on May 22, 1958. Under this
ordinance, some special powers were given to the members
of
the armed
forces in disturbed areas in Assam and Manipur. Later, the ordinance was
replaced
by
the Armed Forces Special Powers Bill which was passed by
both the Houses
of
Parliament and received the assent
of
the President on
September
11,
1958. It is a Central Act that can be enforced in a state with
the consent
of
the state government concerned. The Act was first imposed
in the hill region ofTamenglong district ofManipur
in
1961. By September
8,
1980, it was put into effect in Manipur and was later extended
to
cover
Assam. Gradually, the Act was extended to cover the entire
North-East-
Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Arunachal Pradesh and Tripura after its
amendment in 1972. AFSPA was used in Punjab between 1983 and 1997
and has been
in
use
in
Jam mu and Kashmir since 1990. The Act
is
an update

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