Indian is the largest democracy in the world. Article 21 of the Indian constitution talks about “Protection of life and personal liberty: No person shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty except according to the procedure established by law.” But in reality, do the rights of every citizen protected? Why does a democratic nation embrace a law which allows authorities to put a citizen behind the bars without owing him an explanation?
The Armed Forces Special Power Act (AFSPA) provides power to armed forces to maintain public order. The forces can prohibit a gathering of more than 4 people or arrest a person without a warrant. These forces also have the power to enter and search the premises without a warrant. AFSPA is effective in Nagaland, Assam and some parts Arunachal Pradesh. The Act was revoked in Tripura in 2015. Many instances prove that the army personnel misuse the law – various constitutional rights promised to the common people are infringed. A total of 186 cases of abuse of human rights have been registered from 2012 to 2016.
The Jeevan Reddy Commission has said that AFSPA should be removed. However, important clauses can be added in other acts, he added. However, the Home Ministry denied implementing the suggestions of the commission. The then Defense Minister Arun Jaitley said that the government subscribed to the army’s position on AFSPA. The Indian Army has vehemently opposed the removal of AFSPA.
In 2018, the CBI charged a serving army officer of killing a 12-year-old boy in a fake encounter in Manipur. The action of the army officer was a blatant abuse of AFSPA. Opposition parties demanded the revocation of AFSPA from the state. In response, a few hundred army officers filed a plea in the Supreme Court and said that the AFSPA gives them immunity to work in ‘disturbed areas’ and the law should not be revealed. Many Human rights activists called AFSPA a draconian law and demanded to revoke it.
Irom Sharmila, an activist sat in hunger strike for 16-years from 2000 to 2016 demanding the revocation of AFSPA from the northeast. TheKunan Pospara mass rape incident is another example of the misuse of AFSPA. The draconian AFSPA law has shielded such predators. The Justice Verma commission suggested that trials against military personnel. involved in rapes in AFSPA effective areas, should be conducted in common courts.
To conclude, it is high time for the lawmakers to revoke AFSPA to ensure the constitutional rights of citizens.