"No proof was established against the allegation of the authority. Hence, she cannot be kept under arrest and should be freed immediately," the judge added. Sharmila has been on an indefinite hunger strike since Nov 4, 2000, demanding repeal of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958, (AFSPA) after killing of 10 civilians allegedly by the paramilitary Assam Rifles at Malom near Imphal Nov 2, 2000. She was charged with attempting to commit suicide. Under this charge, she can be kept in custody for a year at a stretch. In view of her ill health, Sharmila was lodged in a special ward of the Jawaharlal Nehru Institute of Medical Sciences in Imphal where one room, where she was confined, was declared a sub-jail.
Sharmila was released and re-arrested every year (as the law allows detention only for 364 days) and force-fed thrice a day.
Despite her request to the Election Commission, she was not allowed to vote in the elections because the law does not allow any citizen in custody to cast vote. The AFSPA, against which Sharmila has been fighting, provides unlimited powers to the security forces to shoot at sight, arrest anybody without a warrant or carry out searches without hindrances. It also insulates the security forces from legal processes for any action undertaken under the act. The AFSPA, described by critics as "draconian law", also allows army and paramilitary soldiers operating in "disturbed areas", declared by the home ministry under the AFSPA -- to take any action suitable for them while dealing with separatists or insurgents. The AFSPA is in force in whole or in parts of Manipur, Tripura, Assam, Nagaland besides Tirap and Changlang districts of Arunachal Pradesh and in Jammu and Kashmir.