Hindustan Times ST (Jaipur)

Army ops in NE hit, bring back Afspa: Centre urges SC

- Bhadra Sinha bhadra.sinha@hindustant­imes.com

NOT CIVIL CASES Files curative plea against apex court’s verdict last year that said state police can probe role of forces in encounters

government wants the Supreme Court to reconsider a landmark decision that dramatical­ly slashed the army’s immunity in the country’s conflict regions and ordered probes into hundreds of suspected extra-judicial killings.

The Centre on Wednesday filed a petition that said the SC’s 2016 verdict – which restrained the army from using “excessive or retaliator­y force” under the controvers­ial Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (Afspa) – was affecting daily operations in areas such as Jammu and Kashmir and the North East, both regions torn by militancy.

Strongly defending its military actions in conflict areas, the Centre said the Indian army was not a “rogue army.” Any proactive action by the army in maintainin­g peace and law and order was curtailed by the verdict.

“It’s an issue of national security,” attorney general Mukul Rohatgi told the top court, arguing for an open-court hearing into the Centre’s curative petition.

A curative petition is the last legal recourse available after a litigant exhausts all remedies such as appeals and review petition. Chances of success are rare but in recent years, the court has admitted some such pleas that raised important constituti­onal matters.

The 2016 verdict was cheered by activists, who have long pointed to a lack of oversight of


military personnel. The decision had come on petitions demanding an investigat­ion into 1,528 alleged cases of “extra-judicial killings” by the army in Manipur in a dozen years through to 2012.

Afspa, at the heart of the controvers­y, shields troops from prosecutio­n and is in force in parts of the North East and Kashmir.

The decision was seen as the strongest judicial rebuke yet of the army’s special shoot-to-kill powers, which trace their origins to a British-era ordinance used to suppress the Quit India Movement of 1942. The army denies misusing the law.

SC virtually abrogated the Afspa provisions that were upheld by a constituti­on bench. “Any retaliator­y measure to neutralize terrorists/militants would be branded as excessive force or an extra judicial execution which runs counter to the very purpose of Afspa ,” the petition stated.

The Centre said the court’s interpreta­tion of the law was not in consonance with the ground realities under which the armed


 ?? PTI FILE ?? Security forces in a standoff with villagers in Manipur.
PTI FILE Security forces in a standoff with villagers in Manipur.

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