Extension of Border Security Forces Jurisdiction in Punjab

State of Punjab v Union of India

The Supreme Court will hear petitions filed by the Punjab government against the Centre’s notification expanding the jurisdiction of Border Security Forces (BSF) to 50 km from the international border in Punjab.



Petitioner: State of Punjab, through Special Secretary, Home

Lawyers: Gurminder Singh, Advocate General; Shadan Farasat, Additional Advocate General; Advocate Rooh-e-Hina Dua; Advocate Harshit Khanduja, Advocate Ajay Pal

Respondent: Union of India, through Secretary, Ministry of Home Affairs

Lawyers: Solicitor General Tushar Mehta; Additional Solicitor General K.M. Natraj; Advocate Chinmayee Chandra; Advocate Kanu Agarwal; Advocate Ketan Paul; Advocate Gaurang Bhushan; Advocate Reeta Vasishta; Advocate Arvind Kumar Sharma

Case Details

Case Number: Original Suit No. 6/2021

Next Hearing: January 22, 2024

Last Updated: February 19, 2024

Key Issues


Is the extension of the jurisdiction of Border Security Forces constitutionally valid?


Will the extension of jurisdiction encroach on the right of the State to exercise its powers of maintaining public order and internal peace under Entries 1 and 2 of the List-II of Schedule 7 in the Constitution of India?

Case Description

On 11 October 2021, the Centre released a notification extending the jurisdiction of the Border Security Force (BSF) in areas running along the borders of India. According to the notification, areas within a radius of 50 km from the borders of Gujarat, Rajasthan, Punjab, West Bengal and Assam, would fall within the authority of the BSF. In Punjab, the limit of their jurisdiction was previously 15 km. 

Under Section 139 of the Border Security Force Act 1968, the Union Government is empowered to publish any order regarding the jurisdiction of the BSF in areas adjoining the borders of India. 

In response to this move, the then Chief Minister of Punjab, Charanjit Singh Channi, expressed his dissatisfaction, calling it “a direct attack on federalism”. Similarly, many state leaders voiced their concerns about the notification, which they believe gives sweeping powers of arrest to the BSF. The powers of the BSF in these areas will include the power to arrest, search and seize under laws such as the Passport (Entry into India) Act, 1920, Passport Act, 1967, Customs Act, 1962, The Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act,1985,  and certain other laws. 

On 1 December 2021, the State of Punjab filed an original suit in the Supreme Court challenging the validity of the notification. They argued that extending the jurisdiction encroaches upon the constitutionally vested powers of the State to legislate issues regarding the maintenance of public order and peace under Entries 1 and 2 of the State List.  

On 1 December 2023, the case was heard by a bench headed by Chief Justice of India D.Y. Chandrachud, and Justices J.B. Pardiwala and Manoj Misra

Appearing for the Centre, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta argued that it is within the scope of the BSF Act to extend its jurisdiction in the border states. The  October 2021 notification, he pointed out, was only making the jurisdiction uniform across all the border states. To buttress his point, he highlighted that Gujarat previously had a jurisdiction of 80 km which was reduced to 50 km. Mehta pointed out that local police would continue to have jurisdiction and the BSF would only be conferred with concurrent jurisdiction. Additionally, the Centre had also argued that to prevent trans-border crimes it was necessary to give BSF power to arrest those taking refuge in the interior areas which would otherwise fall outside their jurisdiction.

Additional Advocate General for the State of Punjab, Shadan Farasat, argued that the extension of BSF jurisdiction to 50 km in a relatively small state like Punjab would entail clear encroachment as most of their major cities, towns and district headquarters would fall within the 50 km radius. In contrast, this wouldn’t be a problem in states like Gujarat and Rajasthan as most of the areas adjoining the international border in these states are either marshlands or deserts.  

CJI Chandrachud, in the brief hearing, observed that BSF’s powers would only be preventive and would not strip the State or the police of its powers. 

The bench directed the parties to frame and decide the legal issues that needed to be taken up. The suit has been listed for 16 January 2024.