Omar’s troubles persist — now over his remedy

November 28th, 2011 - 4:45 pm ICT by IANS  

Srinagar, Nov 28 (IANS) Even as a debate rages over a controversial law, Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah’s decision to amend the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) to protect soldiers during anti-militancy operations has sparked off another row.

The has received flak from the bar association, civil society, opposition parties and others.

Most critics say that by amending the CrPc, the chief minister would have replaced the temporary Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA) with a permanent legal provision that would provide blanket immunity to security forces.

“It would be the same thing, whether you call it AFSPA or CrPc, when the basic objective becomes to protect the army or other security forces from the normal process of law,” senior advocate Zafar Shah told IANS Monday.

Mehbooba Mufti, president of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), said the intended amendments were tantamount to imposing martial law.

“The amendment would not give immunity to just the security forces, it would also mean the central government employees would be protected against prosecution by the state,” she told reporters.

In order to negotiate a way out of the impasse over the revocation of AFSPA, which gives sweeping powers to the armed forces, Abdullah said last week that the provisions of CrPc providing protection to the army during its anti-militancy operations would be extended to the state.

Because of the special status of Jammu and Kashmir, sections 45 and 197 of the CrPc — which call for prior sanction from the central government before the arrest or prosecution of a soldier — are not applicable to the state.

Jammu and Kashmir has its own criminal penal code, known as the Ranbir Penal code (RPC), which is concomitantly applicable here along with CrPc, which is a uniform criminal procedure code across the country.

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