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"When the rights of one man are challenged, the rights of all men are harmed."[1]

Similarly, in those troubled areas where armed forces Special Power Acts were implemented, this was the scene. The Armed Forces Special Powers Act gave army personnel special powers to preserve law and order in troubled areas. Individual rights are sometimes compromised as a result of these particular authorities.

A Brief History
During the pre-independence era, after the 1942 Quit India campaign, attacks began to occur in the Easter front of the India Border. Lord Linlithgow (viceroy of India) declared emergency in all the disturbed areas and executed the Armed Forces (Special Powers) ordinance in 1942 to bring the situation under control. The commissioned officers were given full powers under this act. Killing power, property destruction power, and unrestricted arrest authority.

Following India's independence, the biggest issue was the integration of states and princely states with India, which resulted in a chaotic scenario across the country. States were hesitant to give up their independence and join India. The situation deteriorated in north-east India, when Nagaland declared independence and established its own government. To deal with this problem, the government enacted the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA), which was later utilised to impose martial law in areas where peace and order were not being maintained efficiently. such as in the north east, as well as in Jammu & Kashmir.

Controversies related to this act
The main source of controversy surrounding this legislation is because it grants arbitrary powers to the Armed Forces, and no legal action can be taken against those activities unless and until the Central Government approves them. It's also known as "licence to kill," because it empowers armed forces to kill and destroy any building on the basis of mere suspicion. They also have the authority to detain someone on the basis of mere suspicion without a warrant.

This incident was brought to light when a woman activist named Irom Sharmila went on a 16-year hunger strike to demand justice for his brother, who was also slain on suspicion.

Words of Support
This act is only enacted in places where normal law and order cannot be maintained, requiring the imposition of stringent laws for a set period of time in order to restore order. These laws also safeguard army personnel's morale and integrity against legal consequences of their actions. If their interests are not safeguarded, they may be unable to carry out their responsibilities efficiently due to the threat of legal action. Human rights violations have been discovered on occasion, however the most of the time, army members have a line of duty.

Current scenario
Following the repeal of Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir, the central government was given direct authority to implement AFSPA in various parts of the state, including Ladakh. This law has been repealed in Tripura, Meghalaya, and Punjab until 2018. Our Honourable Home Minister, Amit Shah, recently announced that these restrictions will be repealed in sections of Assam, Manipur, and Nagaland.

As a result, these regulations are currently only enforced in a few districts of India that are still deemed to be troublesome.

Different perspective
Many influential groups and committees have denounced this law. Human rights organisations and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) have condemned the law, claiming that such draconian legislation should not exist in a democratic society and it violates human rights. Several committees, including the justice B.P. Jeevan Reddy Committee in 2005, the justice Verma Committee in 2013, and the 5th report of the 2nd administrative reform commission, have recommended that these laws be repealed or replaced with more reasonable regulations.

Such severe measures cannot prevail in a democratic country where the constitution is the highest law of the land, because legislation is based on evidence rather than on mere suspicion. When regular law is unable to maintain law and order, stringent laws may be used, but not arbitrary norms, must be enacted. Insurgencies can also be tamed by engaging in communication with insurgent organisations.

The 16 years of atrocities perpetrated against the spirit of Irom Sharmila and the people of the north east are finally being accounted for. Because these rules have been overturned in almost all of India, the goal of the Hunger Struggle is to achieve its goals.

Different ventures being undertaken by central government so as to ensure insurgency free north east have acted as a ray of hope in the judicial darkness of AFSPA. These initiative include Karbi anglong peace accord, Bodo peace accord, Naga peace accord etc have paved the way for ensuring the inclusiveness and a military free life of citizens of the country residing in north east.

  1. John F. Kennedy
Written By: Abhishek Singh Solanki - A student of B.A. LL.B. (Hons)

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