Siddharth Varadarajan

Journalist | Writer | Analyst

Repeal Armed Forces Act: official panel

Secret report of Justice Jeevan Reddy Committee says the Act is a “symbol of oppression, instrument of high-handedness”.
8 October 2006
The Hindu

Repeal Armed Forces Act: official panel

Siddharth Varadarajan

New Delhi: On Friday, Union Home Minister Shivraj Patil declined to make public the report of a high-level official panel tasked with reviewing the provisions of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA).

He had good reasons.

The 147-page report of the Justice B.P. Jeevan Reddy Committee — a copy of which is now with The Hindu — unambiguously recommends the repeal of the controversial law against which people in Manipur and elsewhere in the North-East have been agitating for several years.

“The Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958, should be repealed,” it notes in its recommendations. “The Act is too sketchy, too bald and quite inadequate in several particulars”.
The report adds that the impression gathered by the Committee during the course of its work is that “the Act, for whatever reason, has become a symbol of oppression, an object of hate and an instrument of discrimination and high-handedness.”

Acknowledging that the Supreme Court had upheld the constitutional validity of the Act, the Committee said that judgment “is not an endorsement of the desirability or advisability of the Act.”

The apex court may have endorsed the competence of the legislature to enact the law. But “the Court does not — it is not supposed to — pronounce upon the wisdom or the necessity of such an enactment.”

On this point, the Jeevan Reddy Committee’s findings are clear: “It is highly desirable and advisable to repeal the Act altogether, without, of course, losing sight of the overwhelming desire of an overwhelming majority of the [North-East] region that the Army should remain (though the Act should go).”

Panel members

The other members of the Committee — set up by the Prime Minister in November 2004 — are Lt. Gen (Retd.) V.R. Raghavan, P.P. Shrivastava, a former special secretary in the Union Home Ministry, Dr. S.B. Nakade, a former Vice-Chancellor of the Marathwada University, and senior journalist Sanjoy Hazarika.

The panel turned in its report in June 2005 but the Manmohan Singh Government has yet to officially accept or reject its findings.

Submission rejected

Rejecting the principal submission made by the armed forces in favour of continuation of the AFSPA, the Committee pointed out that protection from legal proceedings against soldiers acting in good faith already exists in Section 49 of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967 (ULP Act).


It also noted that “while providing protection against civil or criminal proceedings in respect of the acts and deeds done by [the armed] forces while carrying out the duties entrusted to them, it is equally necessary to ensure that where they knowingly abuse or misuse their powers, they must be held accountable therefore and must be dealt with according to the law applicable to them.”

Accordingly, the Committee recommends amending the ULP Act to incorporate measures that would regulate the already permissible conduct of armed forces personnel in areas where they are deployed to fight terrorist activities and provide protection to ordinary citizens against possible abuse.

4 comments on “Repeal Armed Forces Act: official panel

  1. robinsun
    October 13, 2006

    I highly praise about your concern of Manipur.Manipur is in serious situation now with AFSP act…
    If you want to know more about manipur,check out my blog.I will put up your link in my blog if you want to do the same for me.
    waiting a quick reply.

  2. Anonymous
    October 11, 2006

    Your article on Manipur is excellent. Hope the prime minister will recall his words and would not like to see flowers at his doorstep.

  3. Anonymous
    October 9, 2006

    i seriously can’t stand ur columns in the hindu . u write some lefist/maoist propanganda shit praising china .

    why dont u write columns in the hindu critical of china ?

    or will ur boss(ram ) wont allow it ?

    i am sure u will read this comment and wont respond to it .

    i will link u to a site .this blog is a favourite of mine . please read prassanna ‘s blog . please read this write up of ” the hindu ”

    post 1

    post 2

  4. Anonymous
    October 9, 2006

    r u the same guy who writes for the ” the hindu ” ?

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This entry was posted on October 8, 2006 by in Human Rights, Manipur.



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