Indian Army Updates

Explained: BSF powers and jurisdiction

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : BSF

Mains level : India's border security

The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has extended the jurisdiction of the Border Security Force (BSF) up to 50 km inside the international borders in Punjab, West Bengal and Assam.

Do you know?

BSF currently stands as the world’s largest border guarding force. It has been termed as the First Line of Defence of Indian Territories.

About Border Security Force (BSF)

  • The BSF is India’s border guarding organization on its border with Pakistan and Bangladesh.
  • It comes under the Ministry of Home Affairs.
  • It was raised in the wake of the 1965 War on 1 December 1965 for ensuring the security of the borders of India and for matters connected therewith.
  • The BSF has its own cadre of officers but its head, designated as a Director-General (DG), since its raising has been an officer from the Indian Police Service (IPS).

What are the new modifications?

  • The MHA has exercised the powers under the Border Security Force Act of 1968.
  • It has thus outlined the area of BSF’s jurisdiction.
  • While the places marked here are within 50 km of the respective borders, this is not meant to represent the BSF’s jurisdiction.
  • At the same time, the Ministry has reduced BSF’s area of operation in Gujarat from 80 km from the border, to 50 km.

Powers exercised by BSF in its jurisdiction

BSFs jurisdiction has been extended only in respect of the powers it enjoys under:

  1. Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC)
  2. Passport (Entry into India) Act, 1920 and
  3. Passport Act, 1967

Arrest and search

  • BSF currently has powers to arrest and search under these laws.
  • It also has powers to arrest, search and seize under the NDPS Act, Arms Act, Customs Act and certain other laws.

Its powers under these will continue to be only up to 15 km inside the border in Punjab, Assam and West Bengal, and will remain as far as 80 km in Gujarat.

Sanctions behind such powers

  • Scarcely populated borders: At that time, border areas were sparsely populated and there were hardly any police stations for miles.
  • Trans-border crimes: To prevent trans-border crimes, it was felt necessary that BSF is given powers to arrest.
  • Manpower crunch: While police stations have now come up near the border, they continue to be short-staffed.

Various issues at Borders

  1. Encroachment
  2. Illegal incursion
  3. Drug and cattle smuggling

Why has the government extended the jurisdiction?

  • The objective of the move is to bring in uniformity and also to increase operational efficiency. Earlier BSF had different jurisdictions in different states.
  • BSF often gets information relating to crime scenes that may be out of their jurisdiction.
  • The move was also necessitated due to increasing instances of drone-dropping of weapons and drugs.

Impact on State Police jurisdiction

 

  • This move will complement the efforts of the local police. Thus, it is an enabling provision.
  • It’s not that the local police can’t act within the jurisdiction of the BSF.
  • The state police have better knowledge of the ground. Hence BSF and local Police can act in cooperation.

Criticism of the move

  • At a basic level, the states can argue that law and order is a state subject and enhancing BSF’s jurisdiction infringes upon powers of the state government.
  • In 2012, then Gujarat CM and the present PM had opposed a central government moves to expand BSF’s jurisdiction.

 

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