Ex-SC judge to head armed forces Act review panel
The five-member panel constituted by the Centre on Thursday to review the contentious Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) will not limit its role only to Manipur. The panel would review the Act implementation in other states like J&K, Nagaland and Assam.
This was spelt out in the terms of reference of the committee, which will be headed by a former Supreme Court Judge. The panel would submit its suggestions to the government in six-months.
Significantly, the announcement comes ahead of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's visit to Manipur and Assam from November 20.
It was earlier perceived that the government might limit the exercise only to Manipur, following protests against the Act. However, the government decided to go in for the "review exercise'' as it felt that restricting the exercise only to Manipur might trigger protest in other states.
Home Ministry sources said a formal notification on the committee and terms of reference are expected on Friday, following the clearance from the Prime Minister’s Office.
The decision to form the AFSPA review committee was taken after a delegation of the Apunba Lup — the umbrella organisation heading the campaign against the Act in Manipur — met the PM earlier this month.
The committee will study in detail on whether the Act should continue in these states or it should be withdrawn.
“The committee will also recommend whether the Act should be withdrawn partially or completely. The panel has been formed to study the complete Act and its implementation across the country rather than being state-specific," a senior ministry official said.
According to the terms of reference, the committee will also recommend what contentious portions of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act have to be dropped completely.
Similarly, the committee will also recommend what new sections in the Act could be incorporated.
Interestingly, the committee can suggest certain special provisions in the Act for a particular state.
The Prime Minister had stressed the need to give the Armed Forces Special Powers Act a "humane face" following his meeting with the Apunba Lup delegation. Formation of the review committee and handing over the Kangla Fort back to the Manipur government will be the thrust of the PM's visit to the state.