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Why did MHA extend BSF jurisdiction in Punjab and WB?

Both the states have voiced their opposition to this move the Union government extending the powers of BSF up to 50 kms along the border areas

Sabrangindia 16 Oct 2021

bsf

The Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), on October 11, issued a notification in the gazette that under the Border Security Force (BSF) Act, stating it was extending BSF’s jurisdiction in the states of Gujarat, Rajasthan, Punjab, West Bengal and Assam in its Schedule. 

This means that the area comprised within a belt of 50 kilometers running along the borders of India in Gujarat, Rajasthan, Punjab, West Bengal and Assam will now be under the BSF, giving it powers of search, seizure and arrests in this assigned area.

Already the entire area of Manipur, Mizoram, Tripura, Nagaland, Meghalaya and Jammu and Kashmir (UT) are under the BSF control.

As per the earlier notification of 2014, which preceded this one, a belt of 80 kms was set in Gujarat and 50 kms in Rajasthan and 15 kms in Punjab, West Bengal and Assam. This means that the area covered in Gujarat was reduced, however, the areas in Punjab, West Bengal and Assam were increased considerably.

The move has been opposed by the government of Punjab and West Bengal seeing it as imposition of the Centre in the state’s affairs since BSF is a Central Armed Police Force (CAPF). This means the BSF reports directly to the Centre while law and order is a state subject. Both governments have described the MHA’s order as an ‘irrational decision’, a ‘direct attack on federalism’ and an attempt to ‘interfere through Central agencies’. 

About BSF

The BSF was formed in 1965 as a result of the India-Pakistan war. Under Rule 15 of the BSF Rules, the primary tasks of the Force are: "promote a sense of security among the people living in the border area, prevent trans-border crimes/unauthorised entry into or exit from the territory of India and prevent smuggling and any other illegal activity."

The BSF can carry out search and seizure in cases of smuggling of narcotics, prohibited items, illegal entry of foreigners and offences punishable under any other Central Act.

After apprehending a suspect, the BSF personnel can only conduct some preliminary questioning and the detainee has to be handed over to the police within 24 hours.

The reason why BSF was vested with such police powers was because back in 1968, the police were not armed with adequate personnel to have their presence in border areas and it was this shortcoming that prompted the move. It was a rather compensatory move to make up for the inadequate police force which is not the case anymore.

What was the need for extending BSF to other states?

According to what some officials told the Indian Express, the change was made to crack down on smuggling rackets to ‘improve operational efficiency’.

The Union government does have the power to unilaterally increase or decrease the jurisdiction of BSF in the areas and under the Act, consultation with the concerned states is not mandated. Such concurrence of states is only sought if powers are vested with BSF under any state legislation.

The order has been passed under section 139 of the BSF Act which means under sub-section 3, it will have to place the order before both the houses of Parliament and it will have to be passed by both houses.

 

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Why did MHA extend BSF jurisdiction in Punjab and WB?

Both the states have voiced their opposition to this move the Union government extending the powers of BSF up to 50 kms along the border areas

bsf

The Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), on October 11, issued a notification in the gazette that under the Border Security Force (BSF) Act, stating it was extending BSF’s jurisdiction in the states of Gujarat, Rajasthan, Punjab, West Bengal and Assam in its Schedule. 

This means that the area comprised within a belt of 50 kilometers running along the borders of India in Gujarat, Rajasthan, Punjab, West Bengal and Assam will now be under the BSF, giving it powers of search, seizure and arrests in this assigned area.

Already the entire area of Manipur, Mizoram, Tripura, Nagaland, Meghalaya and Jammu and Kashmir (UT) are under the BSF control.

As per the earlier notification of 2014, which preceded this one, a belt of 80 kms was set in Gujarat and 50 kms in Rajasthan and 15 kms in Punjab, West Bengal and Assam. This means that the area covered in Gujarat was reduced, however, the areas in Punjab, West Bengal and Assam were increased considerably.

The move has been opposed by the government of Punjab and West Bengal seeing it as imposition of the Centre in the state’s affairs since BSF is a Central Armed Police Force (CAPF). This means the BSF reports directly to the Centre while law and order is a state subject. Both governments have described the MHA’s order as an ‘irrational decision’, a ‘direct attack on federalism’ and an attempt to ‘interfere through Central agencies’. 

About BSF

The BSF was formed in 1965 as a result of the India-Pakistan war. Under Rule 15 of the BSF Rules, the primary tasks of the Force are: "promote a sense of security among the people living in the border area, prevent trans-border crimes/unauthorised entry into or exit from the territory of India and prevent smuggling and any other illegal activity."

The BSF can carry out search and seizure in cases of smuggling of narcotics, prohibited items, illegal entry of foreigners and offences punishable under any other Central Act.

After apprehending a suspect, the BSF personnel can only conduct some preliminary questioning and the detainee has to be handed over to the police within 24 hours.

The reason why BSF was vested with such police powers was because back in 1968, the police were not armed with adequate personnel to have their presence in border areas and it was this shortcoming that prompted the move. It was a rather compensatory move to make up for the inadequate police force which is not the case anymore.

What was the need for extending BSF to other states?

According to what some officials told the Indian Express, the change was made to crack down on smuggling rackets to ‘improve operational efficiency’.

The Union government does have the power to unilaterally increase or decrease the jurisdiction of BSF in the areas and under the Act, consultation with the concerned states is not mandated. Such concurrence of states is only sought if powers are vested with BSF under any state legislation.

The order has been passed under section 139 of the BSF Act which means under sub-section 3, it will have to place the order before both the houses of Parliament and it will have to be passed by both houses.

 

Related:

UP: BJP workers threaten SHO, create ruckus in police station

Resist before Delhi Police makes sexual assault their SoP for protesters: AISA

Indore: Police file FIR against Mu

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