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Time up for army act: Panel
- Administrative Reforms Commission suggests repeal

New Delhi, June 25 (PTI): The Administrative Reforms Commission today recommended repeal of the controversial Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act. This measure is likely to bring smiles to the Northeast, where voluntary and civil society organisations are strongly opposed to the law.

The commission, headed by M. Veerappa Moily, in its fifth report, stated: “The Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958, should be repealed.”

The second Administrative Reforms Commission submitted its 342-page report on “public order” to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today. Though it recommended repealing the contentious act, it provided for an enabling legislation for deployment of armed forces in the northeastern states.

In fact, in another set of controversial recommendations, the commission proposed sweeping powers for the Centre to deploy armed forces in all states and favoured a new law governing federal crimes.

It noted that to provide for an enabling legislation for deployment of armed forces in the northeastern states, the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967, should be amended by inserting a new chapter to review the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act. The new chapter will apply only to the northeastern states.

The commission felt that the repeal of the law on special army powers would remove the feeling of discrimination and alienation among the people of northeastern states.

In the chapter on “Constitutional Issues and Special Laws”, the panel recommended enactment of a law giving sweeping powers to the Centre for deployment of its forces and even direct them in case of major public order problems.

Taking serious note of fake encounter deaths, the commission also recommended setting up of a crime investigative agency in every state.

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