The Supreme Court on Thursday asked the Manipur government for how long should the Army be deployed in the state and enjoy unbridled powers under the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA), The Times of India reported.
The Government had imposed AFSPA in Manipur on September 8, 1980 to counter insurgency and restore order and normalcy.
The TOI report states, "The court had appointed a high-level panel headed by an ex-judge of the SC to inquire into allegations that the armed forces had carried out over 1,500 extra-judicial killings in the last over 30 years, and that police were refusing to file FIRs because of AFSPA."
Extra-judicial Execution Victims Families Association of Manipur, an NGO, along with Th Suresh Singh, former director of Manipur health services, had filed petitions seeking the withdrawal of AFSPA, which has often been termed as a "draconian" law.
According to TOI, after hearing the petitions, a bench of Justices Madan B Lokur and U U Lalit told the Manipur government, "AFSPA was supposed to be a temporary measure. But it has been there for the last 35 years. Two generations have grown up under the presence of Army ."
Senior advocate V Giri, who was appearing for the state government, told the court that AFSPA was required to maintain law and order as the number of insurgent groups has risen in the state. The bench then said, "AFSPA was imposed after declaring the state a disturbed area. You mean to say that in 35 years of Army presence in the state, the situation has not improved to remove the disturbed area tag from the state? Has nothing changed on the law and order front for the last three decades?"