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  • 29 August, 2022

  • 9 Min Read

Armed Forces Act 1958 (Special Powers)

Armed Forces Act 1958 (Special Powers)

The North Eastern region would no longer be subject to the dreaded Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act of 1958, according to the government.

Image Source - Utkal Today

About Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act 1958

  • The Armed Forces (Special Powers) Ordinance of 1942, which the British passed to repress the country's rebels during the Quit India movement, primarily in Assam and Bengal, is where the law's origins may be found.
  • The Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act 1958, which is the law's new name, is still in effect.


When Naga militants turned to widespread violence in the 1950s, the need for the law became apparent. In ambushes that the militants had painstakingly prepared and launched, hundreds of Indian Army soldiers, central and State paramilitary men, and civilians were either killed or injured. Security forces were able to disable or eliminate informers.


  • According to Section 3, the State or Union Territory may be completely or partially designated as a disturbed region by the Central Government, the Governor of the State, or the administrator of the Union Territory.
  • Disagreements or disagreements between members of various castes, communities, or racial, linguistic, or regional groupings can cause unrest in a given area.
  • According to Section 4, the Army has the authority to examine locations, make arrests without warrants, use deadly force, if necessary, destroy fortifications, hideouts, and ammunition dumps, as well as to halt, search, and seize any moving object.
  • According to Section 6, anybody who has been detained and any seized property must be turned over to the police as soon as feasible.


  • Armed Forces are used in counter-insurgency and anti-terrorist operations when all other means at the State's disposal have failed to stabilise the situation.
  • Armed forces acting in this setting require specific special authority and security in the form of enabling legislation.
  • Thus, AFSPA is very necessary to quell an insurgency in the nation and safeguard its borders.


  • Without any justification, it gives security people full power.
  • Security agencies as a result commit numerous crimes against humanity and violate human rights.
  • Critics claim that because more armed organisations have emerged after the undemocratic act was enacted, it has failed to stop terrorism and bring normalcy back to troubled areas.
  • Many others even blame it for the rising levels of violence in the places where it is in effect.
  • It has generated controversy since human rights organisations have opposed it for being forceful.
  • As a result, it has been claimed that the north-east has to be released from the AFSPA's clutches because it has indiscriminately contravened fundamental rights

Court's position:

  • In response to a petition submitted by the spouses of the commandos who were found guilty by the SIT, the Supreme Court of India recently issued an interim ruling.
  • The first six cases investigated were found to be fake encounters when the Extrajudicial Execution Victim Families Association Manipur (EEVFAM) approached the top court in 2012 to have 1,528 cases of alleged fake encounters investigated through the Central Bureau of Investigation (Extra Judicial Execution Victim Families Association (EEVFAM) vs Union of India & Anr.).
  • As a result, the Court came to the unassailable conclusion that the Association's accusations were true. The AFSPA has drawn scrutiny and received criticism from the Supreme Court.
  • AFSPA has already been subject to attempts to repeal it, but these have failed. Irom Chanu Sharmila, known as the "Iron Lady of Manipur," began a 16-year hunger strike in November 2000.
  • The Justice B.P. Jeevan Reddy Commission, which was tasked with assessing the AFSPA's provisions, recommended that the law be repealed in its 2005 report.
  • Unexpectedly, it had recommended changing the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act of 1967 (UAPA) in order to fulfil the goals of the AFSPA. After that, the report was put on hold.
  • G K Pillai, a former home secretary, concurred in favour of AFSPA's repeal.
  • P. Chidambaram, a former Union Home Minister, firmly believed that the AFSPA should be repealed.

Way ahead

  • AFSPA was partially withdrawn from seven districts in Nagaland, six districts in Manipur, and 23 districts in Assam. However, until the entire northeast is liberated from the AFSPA's entanglement, the Center must conduct thorough and serious periodic reviews.
  • Additionally, inquiries into the 1,528 purportedly staged interactions need to be expedited and carried out logically. If required, the guilty must be imprisoned to convey a strong message that those who commit murder while wearing a security force uniform cannot anticipate getting away with it if there are infractions.
  • All suspected instances of human rights abuses should be the subject of further investigations by the Army.

Also, Read - The Economics of Road Safety

Source: The Hindu

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