RELOOK INTO MATTER FOR RESTORING STATUS QUO ON NOTIFICATION ENHANCING JURISDICTION OF BSF ALONG BORDER- PUNJAB CM WRITES TO PM.
Chandigarh, October 22: The Punjab Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi on Friday urged the Prime Minister Narendra Modi to relook into the matter and restore the status quo that existed before the notification of 11th October, 2021, so as to enable the Border Security Force (BSF) and the Punjab Police to work together against the anti-national forces for safeguarding the sovereignty and territorial integrity of India.
Meanwhile, Channi also urged the Prime Minister to give an appointment for a meeting on this issue.
In a letter to the Prime Minister, Channi apprised that the BSF is trained to perform their primary duty of guarding and securing the international border and to act as the first line of defence. He mentioned that Policing in the hinterland is the duty and responsibility of the State/local police. Moreover, the Punjab Police is a professional force fully competent to handle any law & order situation within the State. The Chief Minister revealed that Punjab Police deals with terrorism effectively in the past, which would not have been possible without effective coordination between Punjab Police and Central agencies. He said joint operations have been conducted successfully against drug traffickers and terrorist modules because of excellent coordination between BSF and Punjab Police in the recent past.
Making a strong plea to review the entire matter, the Chief Minister said there are no justifiable reasons for unilaterally changing the existing arrangements by the Government of India now. He apprised the Prime Minister that the Police and Law & Order are subjects under the State List and are looked after by the States. By conferring powers of police officers to search, seizure and arrest persons upon BSF officers, not only for prevention of offences punishable under various Acts but also for any cognizable offence punishable under any other Central Act without consulting the State Governments or obtaining their concurrence, amounts to encroachment upon the powers and role of State by the Centre. He further said the Central Government is thus attempting to weaken spirit of federalism and disturb the federal structure of the Constitution.
Pointing out further, Channi said the Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India has issued a notification on October 11, 2021 extending the jurisdiction of BSF from 15 kilometres to 50 kilometres areas along the international borders in the States of Punjab, Assam and West Bengal. This notification has been issued in amendment to the earlier notification dated 3rd July, 2014, in exercise of the powers conferred by Sub-section (1) of Section 139 of the Border Security Force Act, 1958 (Act 47 of 1968), extending the powers of the BSF to so much of areas comprised with in a belt of 50 kilometres running along the borders of India in the States of Gujarat, Rajasthan, Punjab, West Bengal and Assam, and to the whole of the area comprised in the States of Manipur, Mizoram, Tripura, Nagaland, Meghalaya and Union Territories of Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh. As per the earlier notifications dated 22nd September, 1969 and 11th June, 2012 also, BSF was given Jurisdiction in the area falling within a belt of 15 km only in Punjab.
By issuing the said notification, the Chief Minister said the Central Government has empowered under the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, all the officers of the rank corresponding to that of the lowest rank of member of the Force, to exercise and discharge the powers and duties under Sub-section (1) of Section 41, Section 47, sub-section (1) of section 51, section 52, 149, 150, 151 and sections 152 of the Code of Criminal Procedure Code, 1973; and all the officers of a rank corresponding to or lower than that of officers and subordinate officers of the force are empowered under the said Code to exercise and discharge the powers and duties under sections 100 and 131 thereof, within the local limits of the areas comprised within a belt of 50 kilometres in Punjab for the purposes of (i) prevention of offences punishable under the Passport (Entry into India) Act, 1920; the Registration at Foreigners Act, 1939, the Central Excise and Salt Act, 1944; the Foreigners Act, 1946; the Foreign Exchange Regulation Act, 1947, the Customs Act, 1962 or the Passports Act 1967 or of any cognizable offence punishable under any other Central Act; or (ii) for the purpose of apprehending any person who has committed any offence referred to in clause (i) above.
Notably, Punjab has 425 kilometres of international border with Pakistan, and more than 80% of total area of the border districts viz. Pathankot, Gurdaspur, Amritsar, Tarn Taran, Ferozepur, Fazilka and all the major towns and cities including all the district headquarters of these border districts of Punjab fall within 50 Kms area from the Indo-Pak international border.