BSF jurisdiction | Bengal, Punjab fears ill-founded: Home Ministry
Extension of BSF jurisdiction will help in controlling trans-border crimes, it says
Border Security Force (BSF) Director General Pankaj Kumar Singh on Tuesday said demographic changes in certain border districts of Assam and West Bengal could be one of the reasons for the recent Home Ministry notification enhancing the jurisdiction of the border guarding force.
Addressing a press conference, he stated, “demographic balance has changed in Bengal and Assam leading to revolt among the people… voting pattern has changed in the neighbouring border districts … the government thinking was that this notification can help in catching the infiltrators.” The 2011 Census reflected the demographic changes, he noted.
In Lok Sabha
The MHA informed the Lok Sabha on Tuesday that the apprehensions of the Punjab and West Bengal governments over the notification enhancing the BSF’s jurisdiction was “ill-founded.”
Minister of State for Home Nityanand Rai said in a written reply, “Government of West Bengal and Government of Punjab have expressed their apprehension that such a move encroaches upon the powers of the State Government. Their apprehension are ill-founded. The extension of territorial jurisdiction of BSF would result in better and more effective control on trans-border crimes in conjunction and co-operation with State Police.”
The two States had opposed the move, saying this was an attack on federalism, as police is a State subject.
Amendment to notification
The reply stated that the Centre amended a 2014 notification and extended the jurisdiction of the BSF in certain States, including Punjab, vide a notification on October 11.
When asked if States had been consulted before extending the jurisdiction, the reply noted, “Section 139(1) (i) of the BSF Act, 1968 empowers the Central Government to confer powers and duties on members of the force in respect of any Central Acts for the purposes specified therein.”
The MHA had enhanced the powers of the BSF to “arrest, search, and seize” within 50 km from the international boundary in Assam, West Bengal and Punjab. Such operational powers of the BSF, a Central armed police force under the Union, would also be applicable to the newly created Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh.
Earlier, the BSF’s limit was fixed upto 80 km from the international boundary in Gujarat and 15 km in Rajasthan, Punjab, West Bengal and Assam.