A day after the United Nations Special Rapporteur asked India to repeal the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act on the ground that it had no role to play in a democracy, Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram on Saturday disclosed that his ministry has sought amendments in the AFSPA and the proposal was pending before the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS).
Replying to questions at his monthly press conference, Mr. Chidambaram said that Home Ministry has sought three amendments in the AFSPA. “These pertain to three sections in the AFSPA and it is pending before the CCS,’’ he added.
The Home Minister was asked about the suggestion made by the U.N. Special Rapporteur on extra judicial summary or arbitrary executions Christof Heyns that AFSPA should be repealed as it was ``symbol of excessive state power.’’
Mr. Chidambaram said the report of the UN Rapporteur was both negative and positive.
“The Rapporteur has praised the openness and willingness of the government of India to engage, shown also by the fact that there it was willing to host a mission dealing with the right to life, an area in which issues to be tackled are often complex in various countries,’’ he said.
In his understanding, Mr. Chidambaram said, the UN Rapporteur had made “some positive statements.’’
On his views on AFSPA, he said “Yes, we take note of the view but that's not a novel view as there are a number of people who have expressed the same view and there are others who have a contrary view which is why the issue remains unresolved.
“After considering the Justice Jeevan Reddy report and all other reports, the view of the Ministry of Home Affairs is that three amendments should be made to the AFSPA,’’ he said without elaborating on the proposed amendments.
However, informed government sources said the amendments pertain to taking arrests warrants in advance, taking away the power of the armed forces to open fire causing death and setting up of a grievance redress cell.
As reported in The Hindu in October 2006, Justice B. P. Jeevan Reddy panel report on AFSPA, though not made public, has recommended the repeal of the controversial law against which people and activists in Manipur, Jammu and Kashmir and elsewhere in the North-East have been agitating for several years. The panel had submitted it report in June 2005 but the UPA government has refrained from taking any decision on it – either officially accept or reject its findings.