The Judicial Commission on Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) appointed by the Supreme Court of India submitted a 100 page report to the Court in the third week of July 2013. The report has highlighted the rampant misuse of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) in Manipur. The judicial commission also noted that the Act has failed in tackling the insurgencies and the armed forces were indulged in gross violation of Human Rights.
The Commission in its findings has also noted that the Act was abused widely and several encounters under the blanket of the Act, carried out in the North-Eastern states, were fake. The report submitted by the commission also mentioned that the activities of the forces appear as if they believed a priori that the suspects involved in the encounters had to be eliminated and the forces acted accordingly.
The Commission investigated on six sample cases of encounters and didn’t found them genuine and maximum force was used to kill people. The commission in its findings stated that the Act provided sweeping powers to the security forces even to the extent of killing the suspected person with protection against prosecution but the Act failed to provide protection to the citizens against the possible misuse. The commission also noted that in general cases, the greater the power, the greater the restraint and stricter the mechanism to prevent its misuse or abuse. But in case of the AFSPA in Manipur this principle appears to have been reversed.
The Judicial Commission on AFSPA was headed by Santosh Hegde the former Judge of Supreme Court and included J.M. Lyngdoh former Chief of Election Commission and A.K. Singh, retired IPS officer as its members. The commission was formed by the Supreme Court to probe into the alleged cases of extra judicial killings in Manipur after receiving complaints related to 1500 fake encounter deaths that occurred in Manipur in last 10 years in September 2012. The Extra Judicial Execution Victim Families’ Association (EEVFAM) along with Human Rights Alert (HRA) demanded investigations into the deaths.
Earlier, the Justice Verma Committee that filed its report with the measures to curb sexual violence also highlighted the misuse of AFSPA by army personnel. The Verma committee suggested bringing in the sexual violence against women by armed forces or uniformed personnel into the range of Ordinary Criminal Law.
Comment: The report from the Judicial Commission headed by Santosh Hegde has been submitted at the time, when the demand for removal of AFSPA is at its height across all the states (Jammu and Kashmir and North-eastern States), where the law is in existence.
Where: North Eastern States
When: third week of July 2013