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Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958 (AFSPA)

Why is it in the news?

  • The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) extended the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958 (AFSPA) in Nagaland and Arunachal Pradesh, granting armed forces the authority to maintain public order in “disturbed areas”.
  • Further, Assam government also extended AFSPA 1958 in four districts for another six months.

About AFSPA  

  • AFSPA, 1958 empowers armed forces with special privileges in disturbed areas, including the authority to prohibit gatherings, use force or open fire, make arrests without warrants, conduct searches, and ban possession of firearms.
  • Disturbed areas are declared under Section 3 of AFSPA when a part or whole State/Union Territory (UT) necessitates the use of armed forces to aid civil power, which can be declared by the Central Government, Governor of State, or UT administrator.
  • Concerns regarding AFSPA include violations of the right to life and right to remedy, potential misuse of powers by armed forces, and violation of international laws such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
  • Immunity under AFSPA prevents prosecution, suits, or legal proceedings against actions taken in exercise of powers conferred by the Act without previous sanction of the Central Government.
SC Judgement related to AFSPA

·       The Supreme Court (SC) addressed the issue of AFSPA in the case of Extra Judicial Execution Victim Families Association v Union of India (2016), ruling that there is no absolute immunity from trial by criminal court even for offenses committed by army personnel, emphasizing accountability and adherence to legal norms.

 

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