AFSPA is against democracy, Constitution, says Wajahat Habibullah


National Commission on Minorities, chairman Wajahat Habibullah today said the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act was "against democracy and Constitution" and its "loopholes" should be removed after discussions with the Army if the law cannot be withdrawn from troubled areas.

He said such a law should not exist in any democratic setup.

Habibullah was commenting on The Justice Verma Committee recommendations about amendments to AFSPA so that armed forces and police personnel are not be given protection under the law if they commit sexual offences against women.

When asked about the demands for removing AFSPA from Kashmir Valley and northeast region, he said, "Any decision to remove this law should be taken after discussion with Army."

"If this law cannot be removed, then the loopholes in this law should be removed. This should be done after discussions with Army," Habibullah said.

The Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act was passed by the Parliament in 1958. It gives special powers to armed forces in troubled areas. It was first implemented in the north east, but following increased terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir, it was

implemented in the northern state in 1990.

Human Rights organisations are against the Act, as they claim that officers committing human rights violations get away with their crime due to the Act.

The Minister also agreed with the Verma Committee's recommendation to not give death penalty to rapists. He said in his recommendations to the Committee on January 5, he had opposed the death penalty for rapists.

"I am against the death penalty. There is opposition to it in several democratic countries across the world. When I had placed my suggestion (about no death penalty for rapists) in front of the committee, several people had questioned it," he said.

The minister, who is about to complete two years as the chairman of the minorities commission, said he would ensure the safety of all officials of the commission.

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