News:Government has decided to extend Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act for six more months in Assam.
Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act:
- The Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act was enacted in 1958 to bring under control what the government of India considered ‘disturbed’ areas.
What is a disturbed area?
- The state or central government considers those areas as ‘disturbed’ “by reason of differences or disputes between members of different religious, racial, language or regional groups or castes or communities.
- Section (3) of the AFSPA empowers the governor of the state or Union territory to issue an official notification in The Gazette of India, following which the Centre has the authority to send in armed forces for civilian aid.
- Once declared ‘disturbed’, the region has to maintain status quo for a minimum of three months, according to The Disturbed Areas (Special Courts) Act, 1976.
Powers under AFSPA:
- Under Section 4 of the AFSPA, an authorised officer in a disturbed area enjoys certain powers.
- The authorised officer has the power to open fire at any individual even if it results in death if the individual violates laws which prohibit (a) the assembly of five or more persons; or (b) carrying of weapons.However, the officer has to give a warning before opening fire.
- The authorised officer has also been given the power to (a) arrest without a warrant and (b) seize and search without warrant any premises in order to make an arrest or recovery of hostages, arms and ammunitions.
- Further,the prosecution of an authorised officer requires prior permission of the Central government.
States under AFSPA Act:
- Currently,AFSPA is operational in the whole of Nagaland, Assam, Manipur (excluding seven assembly constituencies of Imphal) and parts of Arunachal Pradesh.
- In Arunachal Pradesh,the impact of AFSPA was reduced to eight police stations.Jammu and Kashmir too has a similar Act.