MHA extends BSF powers of arrest, search & seizure in entire J&K, Ladakh

The Border Security Force (BSF) will continue to have the powers of arrest, search and seizure on the lines of police in the entire Union Territories of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh as the revised guidelines issued today by the Union Ministry of Home Affairs didn’t set any boundaries for the BSF in these two UTs as well as North Eastern States. However, the MHA has extended the BSF jurisdiction in other border States like Punjab, West Bengal and Assam but decreased the limit in Gujarat.

A notification to this effect was issued in exercise of the powers conferred by Sub-Section (1) of Section 139 of the Border Security Force Act, 1968.

The BSF, like present, will have powers in whole of the area comprised in the Union Territories of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh. The notification will allow the border guarding force to execute the powers of search, seizure and arrest for the purpose of prevention of any offence punishable under the Passport Act, the Registration of Foreigners Act, the Central Excises and Salt Act, the Foreigners Act, the Foreign Exchange Management Act, the Customs Act or of any cognisable offence punishable under any other Central Act, the MHA notification said.

Security experts told the Excelsior that the BSF personnel were empowered to carry out operations against arms trafficking, infiltration and smuggling of narcotics in the entire Union Territories of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh.

They will continue to enjoy these powers in entire UTs of J&K and Ladakh as the MHA while revising the guidelines hasn’t fixed any boundaries for the BSF like some other States.

“No boundaries have been set for Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh and North Eastern States of Meghalaya, Nagaland, Mizoram, Tripura and Manipur, the parts of which are also infested by the insurgency,” sources pointed out.

An officer of the rank corresponding to that of the lowest rank of member of the BSF is 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 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 received. A BSF officer will have the powers to conduct search of a place entered by a person sought to be arrested in its new area of jurisdiction,” as per the revised guidelines.

The about 2.65-lakh personnel paramilitary force guards over 6,300 of Indian fronts with Pakistan and Bangladesh.

However, in Assam, West Bengal and Punjab, the BSF has got the right to search and arrest on the lines of police up to an area of 50 kilometers inside the Indian territory from the International Border (IB) along India-Pakistan and India-Bangladesh. Previously, this range was 15 kilometers from the International Border and the range has now increased by 35 kilometers.

While, the jurisdiction of BSF in Gujarat has been reduced from 80 kilometers (from the border) to 50 kilometers, in Rajasthan, the limit has been kept static at 50 kilometers.

Sources said Section 139 of the Border Security Force Act, 1968 empowers the Centre to notify from time to time the area and extent of operation of the BSF. The Ministry of Home Affairs has issued a notification modifying the Schedule of the border areas where the BSF will have the powers of search, seizure and arrests mainly under the Acts like Passport Act, NDPS Act, Customs Act etc.