The Draconian AFSPA, 1958

  • Aditi Jaiswal
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  • Aditi Jaiswal

    Student at JL Bajaj School of Legal Studies, Banasthali Vidyapith, India

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The 50 years of the draconian Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act 1958 owes its reviled existence to an abysmal concoction of authoritarian political fallacies, misapprehension of the justice system and circumstantial socio-political exigencies, aside from the Act’s declared objective to stemming resistance movements. The Act initially passed as an ordinance in 1957 under emergency provisions of the Indian Constitution to handle problems in North eastern region of the Union has given an enormous ambit to commit gross human rights violation by the soldiers. The Act has always stood as a barrier for the people of this region to enjoy their fundamental rights as enshrined by the Constitution, moreover its has been always a barrier for the people to hunt justice from the judiciary, albeit the judiciary in most of the few cases that have come thereto, under this Act, always supported the Act and tried to interpret new dimensions in its pronouncements. In my paper I even have discussed all the provisions under the Act, and tried to find a justifiable answer, why this Act remains in use? The grey areas during this Act might be very well be understood by a laymen, but the purpose remains that, its almost 60 years since this Act first came into force, and still the legislators and therefore the judiciary during this country had never done anything to decrease the plight of the people during this region which they need suffered due this draconian Act. In this paper I tried to give a lucid presentation on the introduction of the Act and its provisions backed by the legal analysis, an overview of the various loopholes of this Act violating the human rights, conclusion and most importantly recommendations for this Act.


Research Paper


International Journal of Law Management and Humanities, Volume 4, Issue 2, Page 2478 - 2493


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This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution -NonCommercial 4.0 International (CC BY-NC 4.0) (, which permits remixing, adapting, and building upon the work for non-commercial use, provided the original work is properly cited.


Copyright © IJLMH 2021

I. Introduction

The AFSPA continues to be used by the Government of India in the insurgency ridden areas. As justified ever since by parliamentarians that Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958 is an effective counter terrorism law in India. The truth remains that, this piece of law still stands out unaltered, even though provisions under this law give the security forces power to go against the basic principles of the ‘rule of law’.

Human rights violations can never be permitted under any of the circumstances. The essence of human rights is that human life and dignity must not be compromised which certain acts, whether administered by State or non-State actors, are never justified regardless of whether they aim to realize noble ends. As said by Mary Robinson, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights in her reports to the 58th session of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights – A reckless approach towards human life and liberty undermines any quite counter-terrorism measures. First applied to the North Eastern states of Assam and Manipur and then amended in 1972 and then extending to all the seven states in the North – Eastern region of India (Assam, Manipur, Tripura, Meghalaya, Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram and Nagaland), AFSPA in the name of “aiding civil power” gives access to the unlimited and wide powers to the army forces to shoot, arrest and search, and all. The enforcement of the AFSPA has resulted in the innumerable incidents of arbitrary detention, torture, rape and looting by security personnel, for which there is a strong wave of consensus going on against this Act.

II. The Act and its Provisions[2]

Violence became the way of life in North-eastern States of India and State administration became incapable to take care of its internal disturbances, was what that was apprehended by the Central Government. Armed Forces (Assam and Manipur) Special Powers Ordinance was promulgated by the President on 22nd May, 1958, during which some special powers are given to the members of the soldiers in disturbed areas within the State of Assam and Union Territory of Manipur. Later the Ordinance was replaced by the armed Forces Special Powers Bill. Section 3 of the Ordinance powers the Governor of Assam and therefore the Chief Commissioner of Manipur to declare the entire or any a part of Assam or the Union territory of Manipur, as the case could also be, to be a disturbed area. On such a declaration being made within the Official Gazette, any military officer, military officer, non-commissioned officer or the other person of equivalent rank within the soldiers may exercise, within the disturbed area, the powers conferred by section 4 and 5 of the Ordinance. The Armed Forces (Special Powers) Bill was gone by both the homes of Parliament and it received the assent of the President on 11th September, 1958. It came on the written record by the name  the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958 (28 of 1958).

Section 1: This section states the name of the Act and therefore the areas to which it extends (Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Nagaland, Tripura, Arunachal Pradesh and Mizoram).

Section 2: This section sets out the definition of the Act, but leaves much un-defined. Under part (a) within the 1972 version, the soldiers were defined as “the military and air force of the Union so operating”. Within the 1958 version of the Act the definition was of the “military forces and therefore the air forces operating as land forces”.

Section 2(b) defines a “disturbed area” as any area declared intrinsically under section 3.

Section 2(c) states that each one other words not defined within the AFSPA have the meanings assigned to them within the Army Act of 1950.

Section 3: This section defines “disturbed area” by stating how areas are often declared disturbed. It grants the facility to declare a neighbourhood disturbed to the Central Government and the Governor of the State, but doesn’t describe the circumstances under which the authority would be justified in making such a declaration. Rather, the AFSPA only requires that such authority be “of the opinion that whole or parts of the world are during a dangerous or disturbed condition such the utilization of the soldiers in aid of civil powers is important.” The vagueness of this definition was challenged in Indrajit Barua v. State of Assam case[3]. The court decided that the shortage of precision to the definition of a disturbed area wasn’t a problem because the government and other people of India understand its meaning. However, since the declaration depends on the satisfaction of the Government official, the declaration that a neighbourhood is disturbed isn’t subject to judicial review. So in practice, it’s only the government’s understanding which classifies the area as disturbed. There is no mechanism for the people to challenge this opinion. Strangely, there are acts which define the term more concretely. Within the Disturbed Areas (Special Courts) Act, 1976, a place could also be declared disturbed when “a government is satisfied that (i) there was, or (ii) there’s, in any area within a State extensive disturbance of the general public peace and tranquillity, by reason of differences or disputes between members of different religions, racial, language, or regional groups or castes or communities, it may declare such area to be a disturbed area.” The shortage of precision within the definition of a disturbed area under the AFSPA demonstrates that the government isn’t curious about putting safeguards on its application of the AFSPA. Within the 1958 version of the AFSPA only the state governments had this power. The 1972 amendment shows that the Central Government is not any longer concerned with the state’s power. Rather, the Central Government now has the power to overrule the opinion of a state governor and declare an area disturbed. The Central Government retains the facility to use the AFSPA to the areas it wishes within the Northeast.

Section 4: This section sets out the powers granted to the military stationed during a disturbed area. These powers are granted to the military officer, or non-commissioned officer, only a jawan (private) doesn’t have these powers. The Section allows the soldiers personnel to use force for a spread of reasons.

The army can shoot to kill, under the powers of section 4(a), for the commission or suspicion of the commission of the subsequent offenses: acting in contravention of any law or order for the nonce effective within the disturbed area prohibiting the assembly of five (5) or more persons, carrying weapons, or carrying anything which is capable of getting used as a fire-arm or ammunition. To justify the invocation of this provision, the officer need only be “of the opinion that it’s necessary to try so for the upkeep of public order” and only give “such due warning as he may consider necessary”.

The army can destroy property under Section 4(b) if it’s an arms dump, a fortified position or shelter from where armed attacks are made or are suspected of being made, if the structure is employed as training camps or as a hide-out by armed gangs or absconders.

The army can arrest anyone without a warrant under Section 4(c), who has committed, is suspected of getting committed or of being close to commit, a cognizable offense and use any amount of force “necessary to affect the arrest”.

Under section 4(d), the military can enter and search without a warrant to form an arrest or to recover any property, arms, ammunition or explosives which are believed to be unlawfully kept on the premises. This section also allows the utilization of force necessary for the search.

Section 5: This section states that after the military has arrested someone under the AFSPA, they need to hand that person over to the closest police headquarters with the “least possible delay”. there’s no definition within the act of what constitutes the smallest amount possible delay. Some case-law has established that 4 to 5 days is just too long. But since this provision has been interpreted as counting on the specifics circumstances of every case, there’s no precise amount of your time after which the section is violated. The holding of the arrested person, without review by a magistrate, constitutes arbitrary detention.

Section 6: This section establishes that no legal proceeding can be brought against any member of the armed forces acting under the AFSPA, without the permission of Central Government. This section leaves the victims of the armed forces abuses without any remedy.

III. Debate on AFSPA

In the history of conflict in J&K, AFSPA became controversial after other Acts had laid a search

for challenging their enforcement owing legal loopholes and human rights violations. The J&K Public Safety Act 1978 has certain provisions that would be misinterpreted to suit the police. Consistent with the Act, persons acting against the safety of the state or law and order are often detained up to 2 years, and without charges for up to at least one year. The Act was further amended to exempt information about the arrest to the detainee. Similarly, the Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act 1987 (TADA) has found itself being challenged thanks to the very definition of disruptive activities which might be against the constitutional right to freedom of speech. AFSPA too faces an identical comment from the ICJ; the possible use of soldiers within the “disturbed areas” to suppress political activity can’t be justified. The points of contention surrounding the talk on AFSPA are being analysed within the larger context of conflict in J&K.

Commissions for Judicial Scrutiny: Within the course of its long history, AFSPA has been subjected to judicial scrutiny also as reviews administered with an aim to bring it closer to making sure protection of human rights. As a result, the Act has been whetted thoroughly. These committees have also suggested means to having increased transparency while ensuring that soldiers aren’t impeded in their functioning in such complex conflict environments.

  • Justice Reddy Committee 2005[4]: The committee was found out within the aftermath of the custodial death of Manorama Devi in July 2004 in Manipur. The committee was mandated to amend AFSPA to the extent of protection of human rights, and to exchange with a more humane act if required. After extensive study and analyses of the matter in consultations with members of civil society like individuals, groups, legal fraternity and tribal groups as also the military within the state also at the central level, the committee submitted its report in June 2005. It reported that the overwhelming desire of the people was the retention of the military, but with suitable changes within the legal mechanisms; so on create an environment for the operation of soldiers against militants without harming rights of the people. In doing so, the committee opined that the prevailing Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) 1967 with some amendments might be utilized to offer the soldiers the protection they needed. The reasons given by the committee were the very fact that UAPA was designed to affect terrorism, had defined activities and groups involved in terrorism, has inbuilt protection for soldiers and paramilitary, and is applicable pan-India. It also suggested the fixing of grievance cells with members from the local administration, the military and therefore the police. The Justice Reddy committee was criticized for being regressive in nature; although advocating the repeal of AFSPA, it had been recommending special powers via the UAPA. It might be violating human rights once more, albeit within the guise of another law.
  • Justice Hegde Commission 2013[5]: The commission was appointed by the Supreme Court after investigations were sought against extrajudicial deaths in Manipur from 1978 to 2010. It had been mandated to evaluate the role of the safety forces within the state; apropos the commission consulted members of civil society publicly, collected documentary evidence and therefore the testimony of varied members of the security forces. It reported that investigations by the safety forces were inadequate and use of force had been quite required. It also advocated the strengthening of the police forces which were found ill trained to affect insurgency within the state, so as to get rid of the soldiers. It also acknowledged to the disproportionate use of ammunition while not attempting to apprehend the accused (Justice Hegde Commission Report 30th March 2013). The Justice Hegde Commission has been viewed as unrealistic within the context of insurgency operations. Such views are widely acknowledged amongst senior officers of the soldiers. the main flaw is to expect personnel operating in highly dangerous and life threatening environment to be ready to use non-lethal force.
  • Justice Verma Committee 2013[6]: This particular report is being mentioned separately since it had been not directly concerning AFSPA, but has commented thereon. The government appointed Justice Verma Committee to review laws against sexual abuse, within the aftermath of the gang-rape and murder of a woman in Delhi in December 2012. The report included comments on sexual offences committed in conflict zones. It said that sexual offences were legitimized by means of the AFSPA. It recommended that armed forces be tried under ordinary legal code, and therefore the training and monitoring of personnel be re-oriented to affect the difficulty of sexual offences. The Justice Verma Committee report has been criticized for misstating facts also as not taking cognizance of existing rules and regulations within the soldiers which take any sort of sexual abuse offences with utmost seriousness and therefore the strictest disciplinary action is initiated against the offender. Similarly, incorrect factual knowledge of military deployment in insurgency operations, insufficient and factually incorrect knowledge of speedy legal process within the army has been criticized. Aside from the review cited above, the Supreme Court has upheld the constitutional validity of the AFSPA, stating that powers given to soldiers aren’t arbitrary or unreasonable.

IV. AFSPA and Violation of Human Rights

  • Indian Law Perspective

There are several cases pending before the Indian Supreme Court challenging the constitutionality of the AFSPA. It’s extremely surprising that the Delhi supreme court found the AFSPA constitutional in the case of Indrajit Barua[7] allowing the sole judicial thanks to repeal the act is for the Supreme Court to declare the AFSPA unconstitutional. The AFSPA is unconstitutional and will be repealed by the judiciary or the legislature to finish army rule out the North East.

  • Article 21 of the Indian Constitution guarantees the proper to life to all or any people. It reads, “No person shall be bereft of his life or personal liberty except consistent with procedure established by law.” Judicial interpretation that procedure established by law means a “fair, just and reasonable law” has been a part of Indian jurisprudence since the 1978 case of Maneka Gandhi[8]. This decision overrules the 1950 Gopalan case which had found that any law enacted by Parliament met the need of “procedure established by law”[9].
  • Section 4(a) of the AFSPA, grants soldiers personnel the facility to shoot to kill, thereby vehemently violating the constitutional right to life. This law is simply arbitrary, unjust, unfair, unreasonable because it allows the soldiers to use an excessive amount of force. The offenses under section 4(a) are: “acting in contravention of any law or order for the time being effective within the disturbed area prohibiting the assembly of 5 or more persons or the carrying of weapons or of things capable of getting used as weapons or fire-arms, ammunition or explosive substances”. None of those offences necessarily involve the utilization of force. The armed forces are thus allowed to retaliate with powers which are grossly out of proportion with the offence. Justice requires that the utilization of force be justified by a requirement for self-defence and a minimum level of proportionality. As acknowledged by the UN Human Rights Commission, since “assembly” isn’t defined, it could rather be a lawful assembly, like a family gathering, and since “weapon” isn’t defined it could include a stone. This shows how wide the interpretation of the offences could also be, illustrating that the utilization of force is disproportionate and irrational.
  • Article 14 of the Indian Constitution ‘‘guarantees equality before the law’’. This text guarantees that “the State shall not deny to a person equality before the law or the equal protection of the laws within the territory of India.” The AFSPA is in situ in limited parts of India. Since the people residing in areas declared “disturbed” they’re therefore being denied the protection of the proper to life, denied the protections of the Criminal Procedure Code and prohibited from seeking judicial redress, they’re also denied equality before the law.
  • Article 22 of the Indian Constitution states that “(1) nobody who is arrested shall be detained in custody without being informed, as soon as could also be, of the grounds for such arrest nor shall he be denied the proper to consult, and to be defended by, a legal practitioner of his choice. (2) every one who is arrested and detained in custody shall be produced before the nearest magistrate within a period of day of such arrest excluding the time necessary for the journey from the place of arrest to the court of the magistrate and no such person shall be detained in custody beyond the said period without the authority of a magistrate.” The remaining sections of the Article affect limits on these first two sections in the case of preventive detention laws. On its face, the AFSPA isn’t a preventive detention law therefore the safeguards of sections (1) and (2) must be bound to people arrested under the AFSPA. Section (2) of Article 22 was the topic of much debate during the framing of the Indian Constitution. There was argument over whether the deadline should be specified or whether the words “with the smallest amount possible delay” should be used. The application of those terms has since shown that a specified period of time constitutes a greater safeguard. Under the AFSPA, the utilization of “least possible delay” language has allowed the security forces to carry people for days and months at a time. In its application, the AFSPA does cause arbitrary detention. If the AFSPA were defended on the grounds that it’s a preventive detention law, it might still violate Article 22 of the Constitution. Preventive detention laws can allow the detention of the arrested person for up to 3 months. Under 22(4) any detention longer than three months must be reviewed by an Advisory Board. Moreover, under 22(5) the person must be told the grounds of their arrest. Under Section 4(c) of the AFSPA an individual is often arrested by the soldiers without a warrant and on the mere suspicion that they’re getting to commit an offence. The armed forces aren’t obliged to speak the grounds for the arrest. there’s also no advisory board in situ to review arrests made under the AFSPA. Since the arrest is without a warrant it violates the preventive detention sections of Article 22. The case of Luithukla v. Rishang Keishing[10], a habeas corpus case, exemplifies the entire lack of restraint on the soldiers when completing arrests. The case was delivered to ascertain the whereabouts of a person who had been arrested five years previously by the military. The court found that the person had been detained by the military which the forces had mistaken their role of “aiding civil power”. The court said that the military might not act independently of the district administration. In the habeas corpus case of Bacha Bora v. State of Assam[11], the petition was denied because a later arrest by the civil police was found to be legal. However, during a discussion of the AFSPA, the court analysed Section 5 (that is of turning the arrested person over to the nearest magistrate “with least possible delay”). The court didn’t use Article 22 of the Constitution to seek out that this could be but day, but rather said that “least possible delay” is defined by the actual circumstances of every case. In this case, the military had provided no justification for the 2-week delay, when a police headquarters was nearby, so Section 5 was violated. Nevertheless, this leaves open the interpretation that circumstances could justify a delay of 5 days or more.
  • The CrPC establishes the procedure cops are to follow for arrests, searches and seizures, a procedure which the military and other para- military aren’t trained to follow. Therefore, when the soldier’s personnel act in aid of civil power, it should be clarified that they’ll not act with broader power than the police which these troops must receive specific training in criminal procedure. If this is often the case, then why was the AFSPA not drafted to mention “use of minimum force” as wiped out the CrPC? If the government truly means to possess the soldiers suits criminal procedure, then the AFSPA should have a selected clause enunciating this compliance. Further it should also train the soldiers during this procedure.
  • Chapter X, Sections 130 and 131 of the CrPC sets out the conditions under which the armed forces could also be called in to disperse an assembly. These two sections have several safeguards which are lacking within the Act. Under section 130, the soldiers’ officers are to follow the directives of the Magistrate and use as little force as necessary in doing so. Under 131, when no Executive Magistrate are often contacted, the soldiers may disperse the assembly but if it becomes possible to contact an Executive Magistrate at any point, the armed forces must do so. Section 131 only gives the soldiers the facility to arrest and confine. Moreover, it’s only commissioned or gazetted officers who may give the command to disperse such an assembly, whereas within the AFSPA even non-commissioned officers are given this power. The AFSPA grants wider powers than the CrPC for dispersal of an assembly.
  • Chapter V of the CrPC sets out the arrest procedure the police are to follow. Section 46 establishes the way during which arrests are to be made. it’s as long as the person attempts to evade arrest that the policeman may use “all means necessary to effect the arrest.” However, sub-section (3) limits this use of force by stipulating that this doesn’t give the officer the proper to cause the death of the person, unless they’re accused of an offence punishable by death or life imprisonment. Section 4(a) lets the soldiers kill an individual who isn’t suspected of an offence punishable by death or captivity.
  • Under the Indian Penal Code, at Section 302, only murder is punishable with death. Murder isn’t one among the offenses listed in Section 4(a) of the AFSPA. Moreover, the 4(a) offences are assembly of 5 or more persons, the carrying of weapons, ammunition or explosive substances, none of which are punishable with captivity under the Indian Penal Code.
  • Under Section 143 of the Penal Code, being a member of an unlawful assembly is punishable with imprisonment of up to 6 months and/or a fine. albeit the person has joined such unlawful assembly armed with a deadly weapon, the utmost penalty is imprisonment for 2 years and a fine. An equivalent offence committed by someone during a disturbed area under the AFSPA is punishable with death. This again violates the Constitutional right to equality before the law.
  • Section 45 of the CrPC protect the members of the soldiers within the whole of the Indian territory from arrest for love or money done within the road of official duty. Section 6 of the AFSPA provides them with absolute immunity for all atrocities committed under the AFSPA. An individual wishing to file suit against a member of the soldiers for abuses under the AFSPA must first seek the permission of the Central Government.
  • During a report on the AFSPA to the UN Human Rights Committee in 1991, Nandita Haksar, a lawyer who has often petitioned the Guwahati supreme court in cases associated with the AFSPA, explains how in practice this leaves the military’s victims without a remedy.[12]
  • Habeas corpus cases are the sole remedy available for those arrested under the AFSPA. A habeas corpus case forces the military or police handy the person over to the court. this provides the arrested person some protection. However, a habeas corpus case will not cause the repeal of the act nor will it punish particular officers who committed the abuses. Also, only people that have access to lawyers are going to be ready to file such a case.
  • It had been contended that Section 6 of the AFSPA “immediately takes away, abrogates, pinches, frustrates the proper to constitutional remedy which has been given in Article 32(1) of the Constitution.” thereby suspending the Constitutional right to file suit. This further shows that the AFSPA is quite an emergency provision because it’s only in states of emergency that these rights are often constitutionally suspended.
  • Section 32(1) of the Constitution states that “the right to manoeuvre the Supreme Court by appropriate proceedings for the enforcement of the rights conferred by this Part is guaranteed.” within the Constitutional Assembly debates, Dr B R Ambedkar said, “If I used to be asked to name any particular article of the Constitution because the most vital – a piece of writing without which this Constitution would be a nullity. i might not ask the other article except this one (Article 32). it’s the very soul of the Constitution and therefore the very heart of it.” During the emergency in 1975 the proper to file for writs of habeas corpus was suspended as ruled by the Supreme Court during a D.M. v. Shivakant Shukla[13]. The Emergency had been declared under Article 359 of the Constitution. This section has now been amended, stating that the elemental rights of Articles 20 and 21 can’t be suspended, even during a state of emergency. Therefore, should an emergency be declared today, the proper to file habeas corpus on the grounds that the elemental right to life has been denied should be allowed.
  • During a state of emergency, fundamental rights could also be suspended under Article 359, since the 1978 amendment to the present article, rights under Articles 20 and 21 might not be suspended. As shown above, the AFSPA leads to the suspension of Article 21 right to life, therefore AFSPA is more draconian than emergency rule. Emergency rule can only be declared for a specified period of your time, and therefore the President’s proclamation of emergency must be reviewed by Parliament. The AFSPA is in situ for an indefinite period of your time and there’s no legislative review. The AFSPA grants state of emergency powers without declaring an emergency as prescribed in the constitution.
  • International Law Perspective

Under relevant international human rights and humanitarian law standards there’s no justification for such an act like AFSPA. The AFSPA, by its form and in its application, violates the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (the “UDHR”), the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (the “ICCPR”), the Convention Against Torture, the UN Code of Conduct for Law Enforcement Officials, the UN Body of Principles for defence of All Persons Under any form of Detention, and therefore the UN Principles on Effective Prevention and Investigation of Extra-legal and summary executions.

  • International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (“ICCPR”)

India signed the ICCPR in 1978, taking over the responsibility of securing the rights guaranteed by the Covenant to all or any its citizens. The rights enunciated by the ICCPR are those which must be guaranteed during times of peace by the member states. In times of public emergency, the ICCPR foresees that some rights may need to be suspended.26 However, the ICCPR remains operative even under such circumstances since certain rights are non-derogatory. The AFSPA violates both derogatory and non-derogatory rights. Article 1 of the ICCPR states that each one people have the proper to self-determination. As discussed previously, the AFSPA may be a tool in stifling the self-determination aspirations of the indigenous peoples of the North East.

Article 2 imposes an obligation on the states to make sure that each one individuals enjoy the rights guaranteed by the Covenant. This includes an obligation to supply a remedy for those whose rights are violated. When India gave its second periodic report back to the UN Human Rights Committee in March 1991, members of the Committee acknowledged that the AFSPA violates this right because article 2 foresees far more than just a system which provides such remedies, but requires that such a system work on the sensible level. The greatest outrage of the AFSPA under both Indian and international law is that the violation of the right to life. This comes under Article 6 of the ICCPR, and it’s a non-derogatory right. This means no situation, or state of emergency, or internal disturbance, can justify the suspension of this right. The defence force within the North East have systematically tortured the people they arrested under the AFSPA.

Article 7 of the ICCPR prohibits torture and this is also a non-derogatory right.

Article 26 of the ICCPR, like article 14 of the Constitution of India guarantees equal protection for all persons before the law. The AFSPA violates this right because the inhabitants of the North East don’t have equal protection before the law. They live under a virtual but an undeclared state of emergency and are given no remedy for all the injustices they suffered at the hands of the military.

V. Conclusion

The Supreme Court of India reached a situation for its lack of enforcement of fundamental rights within the Jabalpur case of 1975. The country was during a state of emergency and therefore the high courts had concluded that although the chief could restrict certain rights, people could still file habeas corpus claims. The Supreme Court rejected this conclusion and said the supreme court judges had substituted their suspicion of the chief for “frank and unreserved acceptation of the proclamation of emergency.” Noted Legal luminary, H M Seervai notes that this shows the shortage of judicial detachment. Indeed, it exemplifies a deference to the chief which leaves the people with no enforcement of their constitutional rights. Jabalpur has since been deemed an incorrect decision, but it remains an apt example of the judiciary’s submission to the chief.

The Supreme Court has avoided a Constitutional review for over 9 years, the quantity of your time the principal case has been pending. The Court isn’t displaying any broad interpretation on this Act. The Lok Sabha within the 1958 debate acknowledged that if the AFSPA were unconstitutional, it might be for the Supreme Court to work out. The deference of the Delhi supreme court to the legislature within the Indrajit case also demonstrates a scarcity of judicial independence.

Moreover, there’s an absence of creative legal thinking. When the Guwahati supreme court was presented with law of nations argument in People’s Union for Democratic Rights, the court ignored it. Justice Raghuvir said during a personal interview that the court couldn’t use international law. If the government has signed a world convention just like the ICCPR which needs the government to ensure rights to its citizens, how can these be enforced if the judiciary does not address the text of the convention in its rendering of decisions? The courts aren’t turning to the spirit of the law which guarantees the elemental right to life to all or any people and as a result violations of human rights go unchecked.

VI. Recommendations

Palpably enough, amidst speculations what I strongly believe is that the sole thanks to guarantee that the human rights abuses perpetrated by the soldiers within the North Eastern states is by repealing the AFSPA and removing the military from playing a civil role within the area.

Secondly, this scenario with the military forces in India is that fifty of the military forces are acting during a domestic role through internal security duties, thereby posing a significant question on whether the civil authority’s role is being usurped or not. the very fact is that as long because the local police are not relied on they’re going to not be ready to assume their proper role in enforcement which is the need of the hour. The continued presence of the military forces prevents the police from carrying out its functions. This also recommends for the termination of the AFSPA.

Thirdly, the very issue of AFSPA have now forced The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) to review it. However, the NHRC features a very limited role. and therefore the prospect of NHRC involvement in declaring AFSPA unconstitutional and thereby influencing the Supreme Court to review its pending cases might not be a welcome note by the Supreme Court. This was evident when the NHRC attempted to intervene within the hearing against the Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act (TADA).[14]

Fourthly, If the AFSPA isn’t repealed, it might be at a bare minimum suits international law and Indian law standards. this suggests the powers to shoot to kill under section 4(a) must be unequivocally revoked. Arrests must be made with warrants and no force should be allowed within the search and seizure procedures. Moreover, Section 5 should clearly mention that persons arrested under the Act are to be handed over to the police within day. Section 6 should be completely repealed in order that individuals that suffer abuses at the hands of the safety forces may prosecute their abusers. Basing on mere suspicion alone, soldiers shouldn’t be allowed to arrest or perform any procedure. All their actions should have an objective basis in order that they’re judicially reviewable. This may also assist those that file suit against the safety forces.

Fifthly, the definition of key phrases, especially “disturbed area” must be defined with the declaration that a neighbourhood is disturbed shouldn’t be left to the subjective opinion of the Central or State Government. It should have an objective standard which is judicially reviewable. Moreover, the declaration that a neighbourhood is disturbed should be for a specified amount of your time amounting no longer than six months. Importantly such a declaration shouldn’t persist without legislative review.

Sixthly, the instructions and training given to the soldiers should be available to the general public. Complete transparency should be established in order that a public accountability is rendered possible.

Next, there are much debating going around of complying the soldier’s mechanisms with the Indian CrPC. However, only complying the statutes and acts of the soldiers, itself does not solve the aim. The CrPC itself doesn’t fully suits international human rights standards, so making the AFSPA comply on its face with the CrPC provisions for the utilization of minimal force, arrest, search and seizure would only be a rudimentary step in reducing the abuses committed under the AFSPA.

Lastly, I strongly recommend that if the Indian Government truly believes that the sole thanks to handle the governance of the North Eastern states is thru force, then it must allow the ICRC to intervene. Actually, this will only have a relaxing influence on the scenario of endless strife, violence then on. Acceptance of ICRC services would demonstrate that the fighting parties want to bring an end to the violence. The ICRC’s involvement could help protect the residents of the North East who are currently trapped within the middle between Political egos and therefore the military.


VII. Bibliography

Articles Referred –

  • The Hindu Article :
  • Shodhganga Article: _cha pter%203.pdf
  • Hindustan Times Article:
  • The Hindu Centre Article: /article24790397.ece
  • News18 Article:

Books Referred –

  • Jha, Wg Cdr (Dr.) U.C., Armed Forces Special Powers Act : A Draconian Law?, Vij Books India Pvt Ltd., New Delhi, India, 2015.


[1] Author is a student at JL Bajaj School of Legal Studies, Banasthali Vidyapith, India.


[3] Indrajit Barua v.  State of Assam, AIR 1983 Del 513 at p. 525.

[4] Sanjoy Hazarika, Repeal Draconian AFSPA Law: Justice Jeevan Reddy Committee, 2005, THE SABRANG INDIA (Apr. 12, 2021, 06:10 PM),

[5] Jitesh Jha, Judicial Commission appointed by SC on AFSPA, JAGRAN JOSH, Jul 19,2013.

[6] Lt Gen Harwant Singh, Justice Verma Committee Report and AFSPA, INDIAN DEFENCE REVIEW, (Apr. 12, 2021, 06:27 PM),

[7] Indrajit Barua v.  State of Assam AIR 1983 Del 513 at p. 525.

[8] Maneka Gandhi v. Union of India, 978 AIR 597, 1978 SCR (2) 621.

[9] Ms. Jayeeta Ray, Mr. Prashant Singh, Supreme Court the Final Pedestal of Justice: Its Efficacy vis-à-vis Right to Life and Liberty, LEGAL SERVICE INDIA, (Apr. 12, 2021, 06:27 PM),

[10] Luithukla v. Rishang Keishing, (1988) 2 GLR 159.

[11] Bacha Bora v. State of Assam, (1991) 2 GLR 119.

[12] SAHRDC, Violations of Rights and Compensation: India’s Failure to adhere to International Standards, SOUTH ASIAN HUMAN RIGHTS DOCUMENTATION CENTRE, (Apr 12, 2021),

[13] A.D.M. v. Shivakant Shukla, (1976) 2 SCC 521.