TODAY -

Supreme Court notices Union & State Govt to lift AFSPA
Source: Hueiyen News Service

Imphal, October 19 2012: Controversial Armed Forces Special Powers Act which gives sweeping power and grant immunity to Indian Army has once again come under the scanner of Supreme Court of India with a Division Bench of the apex court issuing notice to the Centre and the State Government for withdrawal of the 'draconian' Act from Manipur.

Acting on a writ petition, a division bench of the Supreme Court comprising of Justice Aftab Alam and Justice Ranjana Prakash today issued notice to the Union of India as well as the state of Manipur for withdrawal of Armed Forces Special Powers Act from Manipur.

Reply to the notice is returnable on or before November 5, 2012 .

This is the second such petition filed in the highest court of the country against the impunity of the Act.

Earlier, on November 27, 1997, Naga People's Movement for Human Rights challenged the validity of the Armed Forces (Special Power) Act 1958 (as amended) in the Supreme Court of India and the validity of the Act was upheld by the apex court.

Nonetheless, while upholding its constitutional validity, the Supreme Court has found to fit and necessary to approve the "DOs and Don'ts' in the instructions issued by the Army Head Quarters from time to time.

The present writ petition (Civil � no.445 of 2012) has been filed by Dr.Th.Suresh Singh, Ex-Director of Health Services Manipur, with Senior Advocate of Supreme Court Jaideep Gupta as counsel of the petitioner.

The counsel has been assisted by Advocate Sapam Biswajit.

The petition has drawn the attention of the apex court by presenting series of events and historical back up which show the impunity of the Act.

Presenting the series of events that led to enforcement of Armed Forces Special Powers Act, the petition said the Act was passed by the British Colonial rule in 1942 to aid the British army in countering Quit India Movement to legitimize and continue British colonialism in India.

Recounting how the erstwhile kingdom of Manipur regained its freedom from British rule, the petition also highlighted how the kingdom was merged to the Indian Union and also the consequences arising out of the merger which some people term it as annexation) .

The petition mentioned that - on 15.10.1949, the State of Manipur was merged with the dominion of India by entering a very controversial merger agreement between the Maharaja of Manipur and Govt.of India which is being questioned by many people today.

Because of many factors or reasons including the said merger agreement, some section of the people of Manipur formed insurgent groups and started their independent movements.

The Union Govt.promulgated the Armed Forces Special Powers Ordinance of 1942 on 16.4.1950 and enacted the Armed Forces (Assam & Manipur) Special Power Act 1958 with minor modification of earlier British Ordinance of 1942 (to fight or suppress the insurgency groups in the north eastern state of India) which was initially introduced for 6 months by the Union Government on 26.9.1958.The said Act grants extraordinary powers to the armed forces of the Union.

In the year 1972, the said Armed Forces (Special Power) Act 1958 was amended to extend to all the seven states in the North Eastern region of India and it is not applicable to any other part of India.

On 14.12.1979, the Act was re-introduced in the Imphal Municipality Area and subsequently applied throughout the State later on and has been continuing uninterrupted for the last 33 years.

Following pressure from the public, the Okram Ibobi Singh administration lifted the Act from seven Assembly segments of Greater Imphal area in August 2004 .

The petition also drew the notice of the highest court by pin pointing out that the number insurgency related crime as well as the efficiency of the state force which simultaneously showed non-requirement of Army personnel.

The petition pointed out that out of the total insurgencies related happenings in the state, 25% took place in non AFSPA area and remaining 75% in AFSPA area.

The petition justifies lifting of the Act by saying that in spite of presence of so many armed forces, violence does take place.

It shows irrelevance of the Army and AFSPA in the present context in Manipur.

The petition also highlighted the severe human rights violation committed by armed forces under the shadow of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act.

The petitioner pleaded the court to direct the Union government as well as the state government to withdraw application of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958 from the State of Manipur, quash the notification dated 3.11.2011 declaring the entire State of Manipur excluding the Imphal Municipal area as disturbed area and pass such other order or direction as the Court deem fit and proper in the facts and circumstances of the present case.

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