- After the India-Pakistan war in 1965, the Border Security Force (BSF) was formed.
- It is one of the Union of India’s five Central Armed Police Forces, and it is administered by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA).
- Assam Rifles (AR), Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP), Central Industrial Security Force (CISF), Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), National Security Guards (NSG), and Sashastra Seema Bal are some of the other Central Armed Police Forces (SSB).
- It is deployed alongside the Indian Army on the Indo-Pakistan International Border, the Indo-Bangladesh International Border, the Line of Control (LoC), and in anti-Naxal operations.
- BSF guard Sir Creak in the Arabian Sea and the Sundarban delta in the Bay of Bengal.
- And plays an important role in assisting the state administration in preserving law and order and ensuring a peaceful election.
- BSF contributes its personnel every year for UN Missions.
- It also supports during natural disasters
- It is known as India’s First Line of Defense.
- 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.
Powers of BSF
- In border areas, the BSF can “arrest, search and seize” in cases pertaining to smuggling of narcotics, prohibited items, illegal entry of foreigners and offences punishable under any other Central Act and select provisions of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC).
- The BSF does not have policing powers and after apprehending a suspect, it can only conduct “preliminary questioning” and the seized consignment or a suspect have to be handed over to the local police within 24 hours.
- Such powers under CrPC are already available to other central forces such as the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP), the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) and the Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB). The ITBP (raised to protect the China border) and the SSB (for Bhutan and Nepal border) are also border guarding forces but can be deployed in the hinterland at the request of State governments.
- The BSF does not have any investigating powers.
- According to the BSF Act, 1968, passed by Parliament and the rules framed in 1969, the BSF has been assigned three primary tasks while deployed along the borders — promote a sense of security among the people living in the border area; prevent trans-border crimes/unauthorised entry into or exit from the territory of India and prevent smuggling and any other illegal activity.
Why in News?
- The Union Home Ministry has enhanced 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.
- In Gujarat, the limit was reduced from the existing 80 km to 50 km and in Rajasthan, the 50 km limit has remained unchanged.
- Such operational powers of the BSF, a Central armed police force under the Union, will also be applicable to the newly created Union Territories of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh, according to a notification published in the Gazette of India.