Thursday, November 5, 2015

Use of Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act urged by a high court in India

High Court of Meghalaya, Shilong
India's Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act 1958 has been criticized for effectively affording impunity to military personnel in disturbed areas. Now the Meghalaya High Court has urged the national government to consider extending the application of the AFSPA to the Garo Hills, where there is a persistent insurgency. The Times of India reports:
A full bench of the HC, comprising Chief Justice Uma Nath Singh and Justices T N K Singh and S R Sen had issued the order on Monday following a hearing related to the pending case of militants calling bandhs in the state. "We have no option but to direct the central government to consider the use of AFSPA, 1958 in the Garo Hills area and deployment of armed and paramilitary forces to control the situation in the aid of civil and police authorities, till life becomes normal and incidents of rampant kidnapping and killings stop," the order said.
This article in The Northeast Today lists ten reasons the legislation is feared.

The High Court order seems not to compel the government to extend the application of the statute to the Garo Hills, but only to consider doing so. If so, is an appeal even necessary, or could the government simply disregard the order?

Thanks to Wg Cdr (ret) Dr. U C Jha for calling this development to the editor's attention. Dr. Jha has literally written the book -- Armed Forces Special Powers Act: A Draconian Law? -- on the AFSPA.

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