As an independent sovereign country, India has a right to defend every part of its territory, including its borders, against any incursions. In December 1965, the Border Security Force (BSF) became operational to guard Indian borders, maintain order, and deter associated global crimes that happen at the border. The Central Government of India has an Armed Security Force governed by the Border Security Force Act, passed in 1968. This Act contributes to improving and ensuring the peace and protection of the nation’s borders.
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The Border Security Force Act,1968
The Central Reserve Police Force Act of 1948 was the genesis of the Border Security Force. The parliament enacted a series of legislation and regulations for controlling the Border Security Force in 1968 after repeated incursions by neighbouring countries. The Border Security Force Bill was introduced in the Lok Sabha in 1968 to codify and outline rules for the military forces operating under the Central Government’s ambit to guard India’s borders.
The first point of concern was the character of responsibilities given to them, that is, policing and armed capabilities. It was unclear if the BSF would serve exclusively as a border security unit or would have some involvement in the interior security system of India. BSF is a paramilitary organisation with the skills and knowledge to compete with the police and the armed forces.
The second point concerned the BSF’s employment in both internal safety measures and law enforcement.
The Border Security Force Act 1968 was enacted on 2nd September 1968 and enforced on 1st March 1969.
Constitution and condition of service under the Act
Section 4 of the Border Security Force Act 1968 discusses the formation of a border security force that will ensure the safety of the borders of India.
Section 5 of the Border Security Force Act of 1968 states that such force shall be under the superintendence, direction, and control of the Central government. The Director General will be the head of such a force.
Section 6 of the Act details the mode and procedure of enrolment, which will be determined by the Central Government.
Section 7 states that persons who are members of the force are also liable to work outside India.
Section 8 of the Border Security Force Act, 1968, states that members of the Force cannot resign or withdraw from the office but can resign after giving their resignation or withdrawal in writing to the prescribed authority.
Section 10 states that any person can be removed by the central government. Section 11 of the Act states that the Director-General or an Inspector-General can demote or even remove a specific person from their position.
Offences Under the Act
Section 14 of the BSF Act,1968 states that a person will be convicted by the Security Force Court and subjected to suffer death or punishment mentioned under the Act in case the person engages in the following:
- Gives up or leaves any station, place, or guard under his responsibility or that he is obligated to protect.
- Deter any person from performing his duty against the enemy;
- In the event of the appearance of the enemy, dishonourably discards one’s weapons or equipment or acts in a cowardly manner;
- Secretly corresponds with the enemy;
- Directly or indirectly aids the enemy with cash or weapons;
- Deliberately sets off a false alarm and leaves his Commandant or another superior officer when engaged in a combat operation against the enemy;
- Voluntarily aids the enemy;
- Protects enemy knowingly;
- Sleeps or gets intoxicated during operation; and
- Intentionally does an act that jeopardises the force.
As per Section 21 of the Border Security Force Act,1968, if an officer is found guilty of disobeying a senior officer’s legal orders or directions, he will face a 14-year prison sentence or another penalty stipulated by the Act.
Section 26 of the Border Security Force Act,1968 states that any person who is subject to the laws of this Border Security Force Act, is found to be drunk, whether while on or off duty, can face imprisonment for a maximum of 6 months or for a smaller amount of time.
Security Force Courts
Chapter VI, Section 64 of the Border Security Force Act,1968 stipulates three types of Security Force Court (SFC)
General Security Force Court
- This Court will be convened by the Central Government or the Director General of the Force, as per Section 65 of the Border Security Force Act,1968.
- The powers of the General Security Force Court are given under Section 72 of the Act.
- According to Section 68 of the Act, a General Security Force Court will consist of five officers and all of them should have served as Deputy Superintendents of Police for at least 3 years, and at least 4 of them must be holding a rank equal to or higher than that of Deputy Superintendent of Police.
Petty Security Force Court
- This court can be convened by an officer who has the authority to convene a General Security Force Court or by an authorised officer.
- The powers of the Petty Security Court are given under Section 73 of the Act.
- According to section 69 of the Act, a Petty Security Force should consist of three officers who must have been Deputy Superintendent of Police for at least 2 years.
Summary Security Force Court
- The Commandant of any unit will convene this court within the Force, and the Commandant alone will form the Court as per Section 70 of the Border Security Force Act,1968.
- The proceedings will be conducted in the continuous presence of two other individuals, who can be officers or subordinate officers, and these officers will not be required to take Oath or Affirmation.
- The powers of the Summary Security Force court are given under Section 74 of the Act.
Chapter VII, Section 82 of the Border Security Force Act,1968 stipulates that the senior member will act as the Presiding Officer in both General Security Force Courts and Petty Security Force Courts.
Section 83 of the Border Security Force Act of 1968 states that the General Security Force Court and Petty security force will have a Law officer, and if such an officer is not available, then an Officer who will be approved by the Chief Law Officer or Law Officer can attend in their place.
Objectives of BSF
The following are the primary functions of the Force:
- To maintain order and safety.
- To avoid transnational crimes and unauthorised entry into or exit from Indian territory.
- To prevent any illicit activity on the border, including smuggling, trafficking.
- To prevent infiltration.
- To gather intelligence internationally.
- To increase people’s sense of security
Laws Regarding BSF
The Border Security Force was founded under Article 355 of the Indian Constitution, and its function is similar to any other military force that is under the ambit of the Central Government’s command.
As per Article 355, the Centre may send its forces to a state to safeguard it from external attack and internal disturbance, even if the state in such circumstances does not request the Centre’s intervention and is resistant to receiving central forces.
The Indo–Pakistan and Indo–Bangladesh borders are protected by the BSF. The people who live there are protected, and events of intrusions, illegal incursions, and trafficking in such border areas are dealt with by the BSF, which incorporates and organises the operation of multiple law enforcement organisations responsible for these tasks.
FAQs on BSF Act
Is the Indian Evidence Act of 1872 applicable to BSF?
In accordance with the provision of the BSF Act 1968, the Indian Evidence Act applies to all proceedings before a Security Force Court as per Section 87 of the BSF Act,1968.
Who will be the presiding officer of General Security Force Court or Petty Security Force Court?
The senior member will be the presiding officer as per Section 82 of the BSF Act,1968.
What will be the Tenure of Service under the BSF Act of 1968?
Section 9 of the BSF Act,1968 states that tenure of service is as per the pleasure of the President.
Who has the power to make rules under the Act?
As per Section 141 of the BSF Act 1968 the Central Government has the power to make rules.
BSF comes under which Ministry?
The Border Security Force comes under the Ministry of Home Affairs.