Explained | Enhanced powers of Border Security Force

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The operational writ of BSF was different in different border States, the fresh notification ends this anomaly.

The story so far

The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) through a notification in the Gazette of India on October 11 enhanced the “arrest, search and seize” powers of the Border Security Force (BSF) up to 50 kilometres from the international boundary within the States of Assam, West Bengal and Punjab. In Gujarat, the limit was reduced from the existing 80 kms to 50 kms. In Rajasthan, the 50 kms limit has remain unchanged.

The October 11 notification replaces a 2014 order under the BSF Act, 1968, which also empowers the BSF to conduct counter insurgency operation in the States of Manipur, Mizoram, Tripura, Nagaland and Meghalaya. Though Jammu and Kashmir was not mentioned in the 2014 order, references to it exist in a previous such amendments in 1973. The October 11 order specifically mentions the two newly created Union Territories-J&K and Ladakh.

What is MHA’s role here?

BSF is a central armed police force (CAPF) that functions under the Union government. It was raised in 1965 in the aftermath of the India-Pakistan war. The BSF Act was passed by the Parliament in 1968 and the rules governing the Act were framed in 1969. MHA issues all orders pertaining to the BSF and other CAPFs such as the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB), Indo Tibetan Border Police (ITBP), Central Industrial Security Force (CISF), National Security Guard (NSG) and Assam Rifles. India is a Union of States and under One Border One Force policy, BSF is deployed along the Pakistan and Bangladesh borders. It is also deployed in areas affected by Left Wing Extremism (LWE) and is routinely deployed for election and other law and order duties on the request of State governments.

Under what provisions BSF is empowered to arrest, search and seize?

According to a background note submitted by MHA to a parliamentary standing committee 2011, Under Rule 15 of the BSF Rules, 1969, the BSF has been assigned three primary tasks while deployed along the borders: 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.

What are the violations that BSF is empowered to deal with?

The violations for which BSF carries out search and seizure include smuggling of narcotics, prohibited items, illegal entry of foreigners and offences punishable under any other Central Act.

MHA has given powers to the BSF personnel in border areas under the Customs Act, the Passport Act, the Narcotics Drugs and Psychotropic Subsances Act, the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC), Registration of Foreigners Act, 1939, the Central Excises and Salt Act, 1944, the Foreigners Act, 1946, and the Foreign Exchange Regulation Act, 1947.

BSF does not have police powers, after apprehending a suspect it can only conduct “preliminary questioning” and has to hand over a seized consignment or the suspect to the local police within 24 hours. BSF does not have powers to prosecute crime suspects. Police is a State subject under the Constitution.

Why the amended order now?

According to a BSF official the amendment “establishes uniformity in defining the area within which BSF can operate” and also to improve its operational effectiveness in curbing trans-border crimes.

The operational writ of BSF was different in different border States, the fresh notification ends this anomaly.

What is the State governments contention?

The two Opposition ruled border States- Punjab and West Bengal have termed MHA’s move as an attack on federalism. Punjab chief minister Charanjit Singh Channi has demanded a roll back.

Punjab’s Deputy Chief Minister Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa said the Chief Minister never made such a demand with the Central government. The ruling Trinamool Congress (TMC) party in West Bengal has termed the move as an “infringement” on the rights of the State and an attack on the federal structure of the country.

Disclaimer: This post has not been edited by our staff and is published from a syndicated feed. The Original Source of this post can be found at Source link

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