‘Review AFSPA to punish sexual offenders’

The Justice J S Verma committee has asked the government to immediately review the provisions of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act.

"There is an imminent need to review continuance of AFSPA and AFSPA-like legal protocols in internal conflict areas as soon as possible. This is necessary to determine the propriety of resorting to this legislation in the area(s) concerned," said the panel's report.

Welcoming this, J&K Chief Minister Omar Abdullah tweeted: "Glad to see he has recommended amending AFSPA to ensure sexual crimes are punished without special sanction. Hope this is implemented."

The panel also proposed amendment to Section 6 of the AFSPA that protects persons acting under it from prosecution.

The panel recommended that no sanction should be required to prosecute persons accused of sexual assault, including molestation, stalking or rape. "Women in conflict areas are entitled to all the rights and justice. Sexual violence by Armed Forces and uniformed men in conflict areas should be brought under ordinary criminal law. There is need for review of AFSPA laws," said former solicitor general Gopal Subramaniam, one of the members of the panel.

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