ARC for repeal of Armed Forces Act

Vinay Kumar

Scrapping it will remove feeling of alienation

Jeevan Reddy panel also recommended Act’s repeal

NEW DELHI: The second Administrative Reforms Commission (ARC) has recommended repeal of the controversial Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA), 1958, saying that its scrapping would remove the feeling of discrimination and alienation among the people of the northeastern States.

To provide for an enabling legislation for deployment of armed forces of the Union in the NE States, the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967, should be amended by inserting a new chapter, the Commission said.

Incidentally, the repeal of AFSPA was recommended also by the Justice B.P. Jeevan Reddy panel, set up by the United Progressive Alliance Government in the wake of widespread agitation in Manipur two years ago. Civil rights groups, NGOs and student bodies then demanded repeal of the Act. However, the Government did not take any decision on the panel’s recommendations.

In its fifth report on “Public Order,” submitted to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Monday, the ARC, headed by the former Karnataka Chief Minister and senior Congress leader, Veerappa Moily, made some sweeping recommendations. It favoured a new doctrine of policing and criminal justice embedded in an inclusive approach to governance.

Deployment of forces

On another controversial issue of deployment of Central forces in States, the Commission recommended enactment of a law to empower the Union Government to deploy its forces and to even give them directions in case of major public order problems which may lead to a breakdown of the constitutional machinery in a State.

“However, such deployment should take place only after the State concerned fails to act on a ‘direction’ issued by the Union under Article 256. All such deployments should be only for a temporary period not exceeding three months which could be extended by another three months after authorisation by Parliament.”Favouring separation of crime investigation from other police functions, the Commission recommended that a Crime Investigation Agency be constituted in each State. A State Police Performance and Accountability Commission should be constituted to provide the required autonomy to the police, it said.

It also recommended that the tenure of the Chief of the Law and Order Police as well as the Chief of the Crime Investigation Agency should be at least three years.

On representation of women and under represented sections of society in the police, it said that affirmative actions should take care of this aspect but favoured 33 per cent representation of women in the police force.

Organisations and persons found guilty of instigating violence should be liable to pay exemplary damages. The damages should be commensurate with the loss caused by such violence. “All public agencies should adopt a zero tolerance strategy towards crime to create a climate of compliance of laws leading to maintenance of public order,” the Commission recommended.

Dwelling on reforms in the criminal justice system, it favoured a system of introduction of local courts, preferably one court for a population of 25,000 in rural areas.

Recommended for you