Govt to ‘Revisit’ Assam Rifles’ Power to Arrest Without Warrant

Assam Rifles personnel were recently empowered by the Centre to arrest and search without warrant in 5 NE states.

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Amid backlash, days after a notification empowered Assam Rifles personnel to arrest anyone and search any place without warrant in five Northeastern states, the Home Ministry announced that the “entire matter be revisited.”

On Friday, 22 February, sources in the Home Ministry told ANI that the ministry has decided that “the enabling notifications issued on 19 February giving powers under CrPC (criminal procedure code) to Assam Rifles be kept in abeyance and the entire matter be revisited in consultation with the state governments concerned.”

“Powers under CrPC were available to Assam Rifles under the Assam Rifles Act, 1941. However, after coming into operation of the new Assam Rifles Act 2006, the issue of re-conferring these powers has remained under consideration since then.”
Home Ministry Sources to ANI

Earlier, on 19 February, Assam Rifles personnel were empowered by the Central government to arrest anyone and search a place without warrant in Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Nagaland and Mizoram.

According to the Home Ministry notification, "an officer of the rank corresponding to that of the lowest rank of members of the Assam Rifles" has been given these powers under the CrPC. Assam Rifles personnel will exercise these powers and discharge their duties "under sub-section (1) of section 41, sections 47, 48, 49, 51, 53, 54, 149, 150, 151 and 152 of the CrPC within the local limits of the area comprised within the border districts of Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Nagaland and Mizoram", the notification said.


Section 41 of the CrPC states that any police officer may, without an order from a magistrate and without a warrant, arrest any person. Section 47 gives powers to search a place entered by person sought to be arrested.

Section 48 says a police officer may, for the purpose of arresting without warrant any person whom he is authorised to arrest, pursue such person into any place in India. According to Section 49, the person arrested shall not be subjected to more restraint than is necessary to prevent his escape.

The Assam Rifles is the leading counter-insurgency force in the Northeast. It also guards the sensitive India-Myanmar border.

The Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, which is operational in some parts of the Northeast, also gives similar powers to the Army operating in the region.


Congress, AIUDF Walk Out of Assam Assembly

The Congress and AIUDF on Friday, 22 February, walked out of Assam Assembly after their demands for an adjournment motion to discuss special powers granted to Assam Rifles were turned down by Speaker Hitendra Nath Goswami.

While the state government expressed willingness to discuss the matter through other means, the Congress, AIUDF and AGP stood united in their demand to debate it only via adjournment motion.

Three separate adjournment motion were submitted by the Congress, AIUDF and AGP as they felt that the contentious notification giving special powers to Assam Rifles would "violate human rights and bring in military rule."

"It (special powers) will bring military rule and affect freedom of movement, which is given by the Constitution. It is like introducing undeclared emergency," the Leader of the Opposition Debabrata Saikia said while arguing for the motion.

The senior Congress leader asked why the notification was issued when the BJP-led government has been claiming that peace prevails in Northeast.

"There is a report which says that out of 100 cases of Assam Rifles, human rights have been violated in 37. It empowers even the lowest rank officer to arrest a person without warrant. It will lead to complete violation of human rights," he added.

(With PTI and ANI inputs)

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Topics:  Assam   Assam Rifles   Northeast 

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