Speedy trials likely for AFSPA cases in J&K UT

AVINAV VERMA. Updated: 9/11/2019 9:09:55 AM Front Page

JAMMU: The state government is likely to constitute special courts for the purpose of providing speedy trial of scheduled offences committed in the disturbed areas following union government decision to bifurcate the state in two Union Territory Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh.
The centre’s act ‘The Disturbed Areas (Special Court) Act 1976’, will be applicable in newly announced Union Territory, which will come to existence after October 31st.
“A Special Court will consist of a single judge who would be appointed by the High Court upon a request made by the state government,” the law reads.
“When trying any scheduled offence, a Special Court may also try any offence other than the scheduled offence with which the accused may, under the Code, be charged at the same trial if the offence is connected with the scheduled offence,” the law further reads.
Declaring the Kashmir Valley as a disturbed area under section 3 of Armed Force Special Power Act (AFSPA), the law was first implemented on July 5, 1990, when the entire law-and-order machinery collapsed in the Valley and normal law was found inadequate to tackle the rising graph of armed militancy.
Later, on August 10, 2001, the state government extended disturbed area provision to the Jammu province also.
In 201, January 2nd, the government had said “50 cases from the Jammu and Kashmir government received for sanction of prosecution of armed forces under the Armed Forces (Jammu and Kashmir) Special Powers Act (AFSPA).”
The cases included death in operation, encounter, retaliatory fire, killing after abduction, beating of civilians, custodial death among other alleged offences.
The government received two cases relating to rape of a woman and sanctions of persecution were denied for both.
Of the three cases that are pending, one relates to disappearance of a civilian in 2006, the second case is related to kidnapping of a civilian in 2011 and the other case relates to killing of a civilian in 2014.
“The reason for denial / pendency of prosecution sanction is on account of lack of sufficient evidence to establish a prima facie case,” government had said.
AFSPA grants soldiers powers to search and arrest without a warrant. It also gives them power to fire if they think the situation cannot be handled any other way.
Since then, like most places of conflict, AFSPA has been blamed for and debated over for extrajudicial killings, encounters, disappearances. Last year, CM Mehbooba Mufti had suggested that AFSPA be removed on a trial basis but then added that it can be re-imposed whenever the situation demanded so.

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