Centre enhances powers of BSF; Punjab slams move

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What is the News?

The Centre has issued a notification declaring the expansion of the jurisdiction of the Border Security Force(BSF).

What does the notification say?

The Union Home Ministry has increased the powers of the Border Security Force (BSF) to arrest, search and seize within 50 km from the international boundary in Assam, West Bengal and Punjab. Earlier, this range was 15 km.

Moreover, the border stretch under BSF in Gujarat has been reduced to 50 km from 80 km earlier while the area remains the same in Rajasthan at 50 km.  

Further, such operational powers of the BSF will also be applicable to the Union Territories of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh and five northeastern states of Manipur, Mizoram, Tripura, Nagaland and Meghalaya. But no such area limit has been prescribed for these states.

What are the violations for which BSF can carry out a search?

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

However, if a suspect has been detained or a consignment seized within the specified area, the BSF can only conduct preliminary questioning and has to hand over the suspect to the local police within 24 hours. The BSF does not have the power to prosecute crime suspects.

What is the significance of this notification?

This notification establishes uniformity in defining the area within which the BSF can operate. This would also enable improved operational effectiveness in curbing trans-border crimes.

Source: This post is based on the article Centre enhances powers of BSF; Punjab slams movepublished in The Hindu on 13th October 2021.

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