Supreme Court ruling on extending BSF jurisdiction: “Punjab cops’ powers not taken away”

The Punjab Police’s investigative authority appears to have been retained, the Supreme Court stated during a hearing on a disagreement between the Punjab government and the Center on the Border Security Force’s increased jurisdiction to look into crimes.

The Punjab government and the Center are at odds over the Border Security Force’s (BSF) ability to look into more offenses. The Supreme Court heard the arguments on Friday. On the day of the hearing, the BSF commemorated its 59th Raising Day.

“Power of investigation does not seem to have been taken away from the Punjab Police,” said Chief Justice of India (CJI) DY Chandrachud.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, representing the government of India, said the top court that local police were subject to the BSF’s supremacy as per the Ministry of Home Affairs’ (MHA) 2021 directive.

That would be against the federal framework of the Constitution, contended the Additional Advocate General (AAG) for Punjab.

The top court ordered Punjab’s and the Center’s attorneys to “finalize the issues concerned” in the case.

The bench stated that the Punjab government’s request was an original suit that could not be rejected without first defining and considering the relevant issues.

The bench ordered that Shadan Farasat, the Additional Advocate General for the State of Punjab, who was representing the plaintiff, and Tushar Mehta, the Solicitor General, who was representing the defendant, exchange issues so that this Court could decide on the matter on the following listing date.

In 2021, the Punjab government filed a lawsuit in the Supreme Court challenging an MHA notification that expanded the BSF’s jurisdiction from 15 km to 50 km from the Line of Control (LOC). Punjab contended in its plea that the constitutional concept of federalism is violated by the extension, as “law and order” is a state matter, and that it also goes against the state police’s authority to maintain law and order.

The matter will next be heard on January 16.

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