Omar offers legal cover to protect army | india | Hindustan Times
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Omar offers legal cover to protect army

india Updated: Nov 25, 2011 01:33 IST
HT Correspondent

To allay the army's fears on the proposed revocation of the AFSPA, Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Omar Abdullah has said two provisions of the CrPC — not applicable in the state now — could be restored to give security forces legal protection.

The idea has emerged even as it surfaced that defence minister AK Antony has strong reservations on partial withdrawal of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) in the state.

"Security forces have pointed out that in all other states of the country, the army and para-military enjoys (legal) protection under the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC), which is not applicable in J&K. We are ready to incorporate those provisions in the Ranbir Penal Code (RPC) to allay their fears," he told mediapersons at a dinner he had hosted on Wednesday.

"The army has expressed fear that its troops will be booked by SHOs and even havaldars if the AFSPA is removed. This is not the case. This will not happen. Legal immunity is there. We are ready to make the RPC on a par with the CrPC," he had said.

The CrPC provisions which could be restored in the state are sections 45 and 197-A. While section 45 deals with protection of members of the armed forces from arrest, section 197-A deals with prosecution of civil servants.

"... no member of the Armed Forces of the Union shall be arrested for anything done or purported to be done by him in the discharge of his official duties except after obtaining the consent of the Central Government," states section 45.

According to section 197-A, no courts will take cognisance of an offence committed by a public servant "while acting or purporting to act in the discharge of his official duty" until a sanction is accorded by the central government.

On Thursday, Abdullah told his cabinet colleagues about Antony's reservations.

The AFSPA empowers security forces to shoot at sight or arrest people without a warrant in areas declared disturbed. The law shields security forces from prosecution (unless the Union government gives sanction).