The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) on 13 October increased the jurisdiction of the Border Security Force (BSF) giving its officers the powers of arrest, search and seizure. The jurisdiction has been extended in three states of West Bengal, Punjab and Assam. In a notification issued on 11 October, the union government said it was amending the schedule of its earlier notification of July 2014 in terms of jurisdiction of the BSF to exercise its powers in states that it guards international borders.
The Ministry of Home Affairs has increased the area jurisdiction to 50 km inside Indian territory from the international border along India-Pakistan and India-Bangladesh borders in Assam, West Bengal and Punjab. Previously, it was 15 km. BSF will be able to search and arrest also in Nagaland, Mizoram, Tripura, Manipur and Ladakh.
However, the jurisdiction of BSF in Gujarat has been reduced and the extent of the international border under the force’s control has been reduced from 80 km to 50 km. In Rajasthan, the radius area of 50 km remains unchanged.
The government has set no boundaries for the five northeastern states of Meghalaya, Nagaland, Mizoram, Tripura and Manipur and for Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh.
Punjab Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi has come down heavily on the union government terming the move as a “direct attack on federalism”.
“I strongly condemn the government of India’s unilateral decision to give additional powers to BSF within 50 km belt running along the international borders, which is a direct attack on federalism. I urge Union Home Minister Amit Shah to immediately roll back this irrational decision,” the Punjab chief minister said in a tweet.
The BSF has been given the right to take this action under the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC), Passport Act and Passport (Entry to India) Act. Section 139 of the Border Security Force Act, 1968, empowers the union government to notify from time to time the area and extent of operation of the BSF.