What is the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA)?

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What is the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA)? Blog Image


The Union Home Minister recently said that the Centre has decided to further reduce the jurisdiction of ‘disturbed areas’ under the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958 (AFSPA) in Assam, Nagaland and Manipur.

About Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA):

  • It is a law enacted by the Parliament which gives armed forces (Army, the Air Force and Central paramilitary forces) the special powers and immunity to maintain public order in “disturbed areas”. 
  • When is it applied? It can be applied only after an area has been declared “disturbed” under section 2 of the act. 
  • What is a Disturbed area? An area can be considered to be disturbed due to differences or disputes among different religious, racial, language or regional groups or castes or communities. 
  • Who declares an area as disturbed? Section (3) of AFSPA empowers the governor of the state/Union territory to issue an official notification declaring the state or a region within as a “disturbed area”, after which the centre can decide whether to send in armed forces. 
  • The ‘special powers’ of armed forces under Section 4 are: 
    • Power to use force even to the extent of causing death, destroy arms/ammunition dumps, fortifications/ shelters / hideouts.
    • Power to arrest without a warrant.
    • Power to seize and search’ without any warrant any premise. 
    • It stipulates that arrested persons and seized property is to be handed over to the nearest Police Station with least possible delay.
    • These armed forces are immune from prosecution unless Union Government provides sanction to the prosecuting agencies.


Q1) Which states are currently under AFSPA?

AFSPA is now applicable fully only in 31 districts and partially in 12 districts of four states in the Northeast Assam, Nagaland, Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh

Source: AFSPA lifted from more areas in Northeast states