The Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has increased the jurisdiction of the Border Security Force (BSF) and given its officers the powers of arrest, search and seizure. BSF officers will be able to conduct arrests and searches in West Bengal, Punjab and Assam. BSF has got the right to take this action under CrPC, Passport Act and Passport (Entry to India) Act.
In Assam, West Bengal and Punjab, the BSF has got the right to search and arrest on the lines of the police. The Ministry of Home Affairs has given permission for raids and arrests up to an area of 50 km inside Indian territory from International Border (IB) along India-Pakistan and India-Bangladesh borders. Earlier this range was 15 kms. Apart from this, BSF will also be able to search and arrest in Nagaland, Mizoram, Tripura, Manipur and Ladakh.
However, along with this, the jurisdiction of BSF in Gujarat has been reduced and the extent of the border has been reduced from 80 km to 50 km, while in Rajasthan the radius area has been kept 50 km as before. No boundaries have been set for the five northeastern states of Meghalaya, Nagaland, Mizoram, Tripura and Manipur. Along with this, there is no boundary set in Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh.
An officer of the rank corresponding to that of the lowest rank of member of the BSF is now empowered under the CrPC to exercise and discharge the powers and duties without an order from a Magistrate and without a warrant.
The officer is now empowered to arrest any person who has been concerned in any cognizable offence, or against whom a reasonable complaint has been made, or credible information has been received. A BSF officer has now been given the power to conduct a search of a place entered by a person sought to be arrested in its new area of jurisdiction.
The move might raise administrative and political issues as the Ministry of Home Affairs has extended the area of jurisdiction of the BSF with a fresh order issued earlier this week allowing its officers to take action to curb illegal activities linked to national security in 10 states and two Union Territories.
Section 139 of the Border Security Force Act, 1968 empowers the Center to notify from time to time the area and extent of operation of the Border Security Force. The Union Home Ministry has issued a notification modifying the ‘Schedule’ of the border areas, where the BSF will have the powers of search, seizure and arrest under the Acts like Passport Act, NDPS Act, Customs Act.