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Extending BSF jurisdiction doesn’t take away powers of Punjab Police, says SC | India News

The Supreme Court on Friday noted that the Centre’s notification extending the jurisdiction of the Border Security Force (BSF) in Punjab from 15 to 50 km only confers concurrent power on the BSF to prevent the commission of certain offences within the limits and does not take away the power of investigation from the state police.

“It’s only preventive power. The power of investigation is not taken away. Nothing is taken away from the Punjab police,” said Chief Justice of India D Y Chandrachud while presiding over a three-judge bench. The court was hearing a suit filed by the Punjab government against the Centre’s notification extending the jurisdiction of the BSF.

Appearing for the Centre, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta told the bench, also comprising Justices J B Pardiwala and Manoj Misra, that “in all border states, there is a power under the BSF Act to extend the jurisdiction of BSF so far as offences are considered. Since 1969, Gujarat has had 80 kms. In some states it was less. Now it is uniform 50 kms. And that would merely mean that with regard to some offences like illegal entry into India, Passports Act etc, BSF will also have jurisdiction. Local police will continue to have jurisdiction. BSF is also concurrently conferred with the jurisdiction”.

Pointing out that the suit was filed in 2021, the S-G also wondered if Punjab still wanted to pursue it given that there was a change in the government in the state since then.

Advocate Shadan Farasat, who appeared for Punjab, pressed ahead saying “there is a federal question involved”. “For instance in Punjab, the 50 km in which they have jurisdiction, it’s not just Passports Act but every cognisable offence, so entire IPC. For 50 km, they have the concurrent power along with the state police to exercise every power over every cognisable offence under IPC. When you extend from 15 to 50 in a relatively small state like Punjab, all the major cities… come under that. So you have two parallel jurisdictions,” he said.

Festive offer

The counsel said the Centre’s notification “takes away our power under entry 1 and 2 of list 2 (state list), which is public order and police. So there is a federal question which is involved”. He said, “So far as other states are considered — Gujarat and Rajasthan — Gujarat has marsh land in a substantial portion. There it can be reasonable to extend it because no major urban centres come within it. Similarly in Rajasthan, there is desert.”

Mehta said even in Rajasthan, Gujarat etc some urban centres do fall within 50 km. In Meghalaya, Nagaland, Mizoram, the entire state is within the jurisdiction, he pointed out.

The bench asked the parties to sit together and decide the issues which need to be taken up, and said it will fix the next date for hearing once that is done.

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