Special Powers of the Armed Forces

Last updated on Jun 15, 2022

The Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958 (AFSPA) grants certain ‘special powers’ to the members of the armed forces in disturbed areas. This law extends to the states of Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland and Jammu and Kashmir. Jammu and Kashmir has a separate AFSPA enacted in 1990 which is similar to the AFSPA, 1958, except for a few provisions.

Under AFSPA the Military is considered to be “armed forces”. When the Air Forces operate on the ground, then they are also known as “armed forces” and have the special powers and duties under AFSPA. Other armed forces of the central government such as Border Security Force (BSF) are also included under AFSPA. However, the Navy is not included under “armed forces”.

There are certain officers of these armed forces who have been granted special powers i.e. power to shoot and use force, destroy shelters/storage, arrest without a warrant, enter and search. These band of officers include:

  • Commissioned officers,
  • Non-Commissioned Officers,
  • Warrant Officers.

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