AFSPA Notified, Implemented By JK Govt: MHA

AFSPA Notified, Implemented By JK Govt: MHA

11 April 2012
Greater Kashmir
Umer Maqbool

Srinagar: The Union Home Ministry has revealed that the process for notification and implementation of Armed Forces Special Powers Act in Jammu and Kashmir was done by the state government, while stating that it has not issued any guideline for implementation of the controversial legislation in the state. While disposing off the first appeal under Right to Information filed by Venkatesh Nayak, Coordinator - Access to Information Program, Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI), the Joint Secretary Kashmir in the Home Ministry, K. Skanandan, said, “As the matter relating to notification - implementation of this Act was processed by the State Government…………... You may, if so desire, approach the State Government for the relevant information under the RTI Act of the State Government. The RTI Act, 2005, is not applicable to the state of J&K; as such, your application was not transferred to the State Government.” The order says that no guidelines, instructions and rules have been issued by the Ministry regarding implementation of AFSPA in JK. “The Chief Public Information Officer in his letter dated 6th January 2012 informed the applicant that as per the records available… no such communication has been issued by this Ministry in relation to implementation of the Armed Forces (Jammu and Kashmir) Special Powers Act, 1990,” the order reads, while upholding the reply of CPIO. Earlier, Venkatesh had sought information on whether any rule, regulation, instruction, guideline, circular, office memorandum, standing order, standard operating procedure, gazette notification or any other written communication was issued by MHA in relation to the implementation of the controversial law. The MHA revelation that it has not issued any guideline runs contrary to the Supreme Court direction. In 1997, the Apex Court issued number of dos and don’ts for AFSPA. According to the SC guidelines, any person arrested and taken into custody in exercise of the powers under Section 4(c) of the Central Act should be handed over to the officer-in-charge of the nearest police station with least possible delay so that he can be produced before the nearest Magistrate within 24 hours of such arrest excluding the time taken for journey from the place of arrest to the court of magistrate, the property or the arms, ammunition etc., seized during the course of search conducted under Section 4(d) of the Central Act must be handed over to officer-in-charge of the nearest police station together with a report of the circumstances occasioning such search and seizure. The other major guideline says the provisions of CrPC governing search and seizure have to be followed during the course of search and seizure conducted in exercise of the power conferred under Section 4(d) of the Central Act; And a complaint containing an allegation about misuse or abuse of the powers conferred under the Central Act shall be thoroughly inquired into. Although CHRI also filed an RTI application in Ministry of Defence seeking information about implementation of guidelines for AFSPA in JK, it did not respond, prompting the rights body to file an appeal before First Appellate Authority. Pertinently, after the eruption of militancy in the state, AFSPA was imposed in Valley and Jammu respectively in 1990 and 2001. The then Additional Chief Secretary (Home) issued a notification vide SRO-SW4 dated 6-7-1990 declaring the Kashmir valley and parts of Rajouri and Poonch district as disturbed. Another order to notify Jammu region as disturbed was issued by then Principal Secretary Home vide order number 219-97-ISA dated 10-8-2001. The notification declared districts of Jammu, Kathua, Udhampur, Poonch, Rajouri and Doda as disturbed areas to facilitate the imposition of AFPSA there. Pertinently, the areas to be brought under the purview of AFSPA have to be declared as disturbed first. Latest debate over AFSPA revocation was generated by Chief Minister Omar Abdullah on October 21 last year when at a police function he declared that the controversial law would be removed from parts of the state “within days.”