The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has extended the jurisdiction of the Border Security Force (BSF) up to 50 km inside the international borders in Punjab, West Bengal and Assam. The BSF’s powers — which include arrest, search and seizures — were limited to up to 15 km in these states. At the same time, the Ministry has reduced BSF’s area of operation in Gujarat from 80 km from the border, to 50 km.

The BSF exercise in this jurisdiction

  1. Its jurisdiction has been extended only in respect of the powers it enjoys under Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC), Passport (Entry into India) Act, 1920 and the Passport Act, 1967. BSF currently has powers to arrest and search under these laws.
  2. It also has powers to arrest, search and seize under the NDPS Act, Arms Act, Customs Act and certain other laws. Its jurisdiction under these laws has not been changed, meaning its powers under these will continue to be only up to 15 km inside the border in Punjab, Assam and West Bengal, and will remain as far as 80 km in Gujarat.
  3. In 1969, the BSF first got powers to arrest and search under the CrPC with respect to certain laws such as the Foreigners Act, The Passport Act, forex laws and Customs Act. BSF sources said even before 2014, they had a jurisdiction of 15 km inside the border in several states.
  4. “At that time, border areas were sparsely populated and there were hardly any police stations for miles. To prevent trans-border crimes, it was felt necessary that BSF is given powers to arrest. While police stations have now come up near the border, they continue to be short-staffed,” a BSF officer said.