Punjab Gov’t Asks SC to Challenge Center’s Decision to Expand BSF’s Territorial Jurisdiction – The New Indian Express
NEW DELHI: The dispute over the Centre’s decision to extend the BSF’s jurisdiction to a 50 km belt along the international borders in Punjab, West Bengal and Assam has reached the Supreme Court, the Charanjit Singh Channi government contesting this decision. Punjab is the first state to challenge the Centre’s decision.
Filed under Section 131 of the Constitution, the suit was entered before the Clerk, who gave notice to the Center through the Attorney General. The next hearing would take place after four weeks. Under Article 131, the Supreme Court has original jurisdiction over any dispute between the Center and a State, the Center and a State on one side and another State on the other side, and between two or more states.
“The Respondent, all of a sudden, on 11th October 2021, without consulting the Claimant – State of Punjab – or conducting any consultation process, issued the notification, by which it amended the schedules of notifications dated 3rd July 2014 , September 22, 1969 and June 11, 2012 and increased the limit from 15 kilometers to 50 kilometers,” he said.
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The plea said the effect of the notification dated October 11, 2021 is that “it amounts to an encroachment on the powers and role of the requesting State of Punjab by the Centre, inasmuch as more than 80% border districts, all major towns and cities, including all district capitals of Punjab, are within 50 km of the Indo-Pakistan border”.
It indicates that the concerns of Punjab are totally different and distinct from those of the Union Territories of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh and the states of Gujarat and Rajasthan.
“It is argued that the notification dated October 11, 2021 is ultra-vires the Constitution because it defeats the purpose of entries 1 and 2 of List II of Schedule 7 of the Constitution of the India and impinges on the plaintiff’s plenary power to legislate on matters which concern or are necessary for the maintenance of public order and internal peace,” the plea reads.
Previously, the jurisdiction of the BSF was a 15 km belt along the border. In the area under their jurisdiction, BSF officers have the same powers of arrest, search and seizure as the police.
It has a membership of around 2.65 lakh and was established on December 1, 1965.
It has 192 operational battalions and is the largest border guard force in the country, with the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP), Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB) and Assam Rifles being the other three.
In Manipur, Mizoram, Tripura, Nagaland, Meghalaya, BSF jurisdiction has been reduced by 20 km while in Gujarat it has been reduced by 30 km. There has been no change in Rajasthan.