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Daily News Analysis


26th June, 2024 Polity


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Picture Courtesy: https://indianexpress.com/article/explained/explained-law/what-is-enemy-agents-ordinance-tough-law-applicable-in-jk-9412703/

Context: The Enemy Agents Ordinance in Jammu and Kashmir is a stringent legal provision originally promulgated in 1917 during the Dogra rule under the Maharaja of Jammu and Kashmir.

Origins and Scope

  • Origins and Purpose: Issued first in 1917, the ordinance was designed to address activities deemed detrimental to the state's security, particularly acts aiding enemies or impeding military operations.
  • Legal Provisions: According to the ordinance, individuals categorised as enemy agents or those conspiring to aid enemies can face severe penalties. Punishments include death, life imprisonment, or up to 10 years of rigorous imprisonment, along with fines.
  • Amendments and Incorporation: Post-Partition in 1947, the ordinance became part of the legal framework in the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir. Over time, it underwent amendments to adapt to changing security dynamics.

Legal Proceedings and Restrictions

  • Trial Process: Trials under the Enemy Agents Ordinance are conducted by specially appointed judges, chosen by the government in consultation with the High Court. The accused are not allowed to engage their legal counsel unless permitted by the court.
  • Appeal and Review: The ordinance restricts appeals against the verdict. Review of decisions is limited to a designated individual chosen by the government from the High Court judges, whose decision is final.
  • Secrecy and Disclosure: There are strict provisions against the disclosure or publication of case details without prior government authorization. Violation of this provision can result in imprisonment or fines.

Application and Controversies

  • Historical Cases: Several prominent figures, including Maqbool Bhat, the founder of the Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front, were tried and sentenced under this ordinance. Bhat was executed in 1984 following his conviction under these provisions.
  • Controversies and Criticism: Critics argue that the ordinance’s provisions, such as limited legal defence and restrictions on appeal, undermine due process and civil liberties. The secrecy clause has also been contentious, raising concerns about transparency and accountability in legal proceedings.
  • Post-2019 Reorganisation: After the abrogation of Article 370 and the reorganisation of Jammu and Kashmir in 2019, several state laws were reassessed or replaced with Indian laws. However, security-related laws like the Enemy Agents Ordinance and the Public Safety Act remained in force.


  • The Enemy Agents Ordinance in Jammu and Kashmir remains a controversial legal instrument due to its stringent provisions and the manner in which it has been historically applied. While intended to safeguard national security, its impact on civil liberties and procedural fairness continues to be debated in legal and human rights circles.


Indian Express



Q.  Allegations of human rights abuses have plagued Jammu and Kashmir for decades.  These issues create a barrier to development and social progress.  Critically examine the challenges faced by the Indian government in balancing security concerns with the need to uphold human rights in the region.  Propose strategies for promoting a more rights-respecting approach to development.