The Armed Forces (Punjab and Chandigarh) Special Powers Act, 1983 was enacted on December 8, 1983 and came into effect on October 15 1983 with retrospective operation. The main purpose of the Act was to grant special authority and power to the armed forces members functioning under the disturbed areas located in the Punjab State as well as Union Territory of Chandigarh. The application of the Act extends to the entire territory of Punjab State along with the Union Territory of Chandigarh. According to the terms defined under the Act, armed forces consists of the military as well as the air forces which are functioning as land forces and comprises other Central armed forces working under similar areas. The disturbed area as provided under the Act is the area which is acknowledged by the Central Government to be so by notification for the time being. Other expressions and terms which are not defined under the Act shall be construed with the meaning provided under the Air Forces Act, 1950 and the Army Act, 1950.
The Act expressly confers authority on the concerned State to proclaim some areas to be declared areas. Accordingly, with regard to the Punjab State or Chandigarh, the Administrator in charge of the Union Territory or the Governor of a State or even the Central Government deems it necessary that the entire of some areas of the Punjab State or the Union Territory is under risky, unsafe or disturbed situation that the help or assistance of armed force for the safety is essential, the Governor or Administrator or the Union Government can affirm the entire or some parts of such area to be disturbed area by notification. Such declaration may be for the time being or even longer period till protection is ensured.
Additionally, any commissioned or non commissioned or warrant officer or other officials of the similar rank operating under the armed forces is granted power to fire upon or employ force in the disturbed area if he finds it essential to maintain order in such area. Before employing as such force, the officer shall take due caution and warn the public regarding such action. This power can be exercised against any person who violates law in the disturbed area. He can restrict the unlawful assembly or carrying arms or artillery or explosive materials. The officer is also sanctioned under the Act to destruct the arms store, arrange or secure position or prevent attacks on any building employed for the purpose of training of volunteers etc.
Moreover, the officer can arrest the person without warrant who has committed the offence which is cognizable or a suspicious person if such arrest is unavoidable. The power to enter the premises and search the place to carry out such arrest and to recover restrained person or any property which is alleged to be a stolen property is also conferred on such officer. The weapons or artillery detained in some place shall also be recovered under the authority granted to the officer. The search and seizure of premises also includes a vehicle which is deemed to take a person who is a declared offender and person charged with offence of non-cognizable nature. The officer conducting and exercising powers under the Act shall also have the express command to break open a door, box, package, lock, almirah, drawer where the key of such thing is being withheld. The person who was arrested or under custody of the officer and the property or weapons or explosive materials or vehicles that are confiscated under the enactment shall be handed over to the officer under duty of the police station near by without holdup added with the report of the happenings of arrest or seizure. The Armed Forces (Punjab and Chandigarh) Special Powers Act, 1983 repealed Armed Forces (Punjab and Chandigarh) Special Powers Ordinance, 1983.