Recent decision taken by the Government of India to confer power of arrest, seizure and search or police power to Border Security Force (BSF); is an attempt to infringe the very spirit of Indian Constitution. See –
The Government of India amended the Border Security Force Act, after tabling the Border Security Force (Amendment) Bill 2011 by Parliamentary Standing Committee on Home Affairs. The objective of the amendment was to change the very premise of constitution of the force. In section 4 of the BSF Act, 1968 it was clearly stated that ‘there shall be an armed force of the Union called the Border Security Force for ensuring the security of the borders of India’. Rule 15 of the BSF Rules, 1969, clarified that the BSF has been assigned following tasks while deployed along the borders:- (i) Promote a sense of security among the people living in the border area (ii) Prevent trans-border crimes, un-authorised entry into or exit from the territory of India(iii) Prevent smuggling and any other illegal activity. The assigned duty of BSF clearly mentioned in this rule. The amended version of Act superfluously extending their roles and responsibilities, while they failed to perform their assigned tasks; the force failed to infuse sense of security among the people living along the border rather they feel insecure by BSF’s presence. Trans border crimes and illegal entries and exits are controlled by BSF and corresponding guards from other side of the border; a bribe of mere 100 rupees to BSF makes the passage without hassles. Smuggling and other illegal activities in bordering areas taking place in regularity with an active fortification of BSF.
The recent amendment was in contradiction to its role and justification. Enhancement of purview will necessitate the justification for the same. The BSF and other such forces being deployed regularly with heavy numbers at hinterlands can not be a justification for their police power as their deployment is already created ripples and protested.
The additional powers to men in uniform and conferring the same to additional bands are not only against the democratic fabric of this country but also in an ulterior motive to convert Indian democracy to a ‘police state’. It is against the perspective of human rights as the force is already being condemned by national and international agencies for their violation of human rights as well as procedural violation. Human Rights Watch, OMCT, AHRC, ACHR, UN Human Rights Council and others made regular observations on their illegal and extra constitutional misdeeds.
The criminal justice system of our country is dependent on the text of criminal procedure code (Cr. P.C). Section 41 of Cr.P.C clearly stated that any ‘Any police officer may without an order from a Magistrate and without a war rant, arrest any person’. Now if the government has to confer the same to any other it has to amend the criminal procedure code, not the constituting Acts of any force. Now, extended sections of the society including the opinion builders are against this unbridled power to police, the apex court of this country in their various judgments also showed their concern and tried to rationalize this draconian section. But the lawmakers are abundantly distributing this power to all arms of its ‘active machinery’.
The government is now hell-bent for militarization of the polity, administration and society to throttle the voice of protests against its anti-people policies.
Consultation with civil society organizations, jurists, academicians and other stakeholders before framing any legislation a befitting practice, nowadays, but in this case the government evaded from this practice. The Home Secretary of Government of India in his reply to satisfy members of parliament during the discussion on the tabled report for amendment of BSF ACT, (chapter III of the report 3.2.1 & 3.2.2) while questioned about any objection from any quarter about deployment of BSF in the interior areas to look after internal security, responded by saying ‘no objection has been received so far, which is utter lie. The deployment of BSF has been questioned from various quarters including our National Human Rights Commission and also condemned by them.
Banglar Manabadhikar Suraksha Mancha (MASUM) strongly condemns this clandestine and atrocious move of Indian government and parliament.
Banglar Manabadhikar Suraksha Mancha
National Convenor (PACTI)
Programme Against Custodial Torture & Impunity
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