Madhya Pradesh government’s proposed stamp duty on issue of fresh arms licences as also on renewal of existing ones will make it 67 times more expensive for a sportsperson in the state to obtain and 34 times more expensive to renew some categories of licenses compared to other states.
Shooting as a sport has fetched Madhya Pradesh the highest number of medals in any single sporting discipline in the last few years and the state government’s stamp duty could prove to be a dampener.
As per the proposed stamp duty, Rs 10,000 would be charged on issue of fresh licence and Rs 5,000 for renewal in pistol/revolver category; Rs 2,000 would be charged on issue of fresh licence and Rs 1,000 for renewal in other categories (rifle and gun). Section IV of the Arms Rules, 1962 of Arms Act, 1959 prescribes fee for issue and renewal of licenses. As per the section, Rs 150 would be charged for issue and renewal of pistol/revolver licence, Rs 90 for rifle and Rs 60 for shotgun which would continue to be charged over and above the stamp duty.
While a sportsperson in MP would have to pay Rs 10,150 for issue and Rs 5,150 for renewal of a handgun licence, residents of other states would have to pay only Rs 150 both for fresh issue and renewal. In other words, a sportsperson from another state would pay 67 times less for fresh issue of a handgun licence and 34 times less for renewal.
In other disciplines like trap/skeet and rifle shooting, sportspersons would have to pay Rs 2,060 and Rs 2,090 at time of issue of license and Rs 1,060 and Rs 1,090 at time of renewal. In other states, a sportsperson would have to pay only Rs 60 and Rs 90. Also, sportsperson in MP will have to shell out 23 times more to obtain a rifle licence and 12 times more at time of renewal.
Gone are also the days when shooting was an elitist sport confined only to princes and the aristocracy. Manisha Keer, who recently won a gold medal at the National Games aspires to own a weapon one day. Manisha’s father Kailash hails from the boatman community and still practices the profession for a living. Sitting in his humble house on the outskirts of Bhopal, Kailash says, “Licensing should be within reach of the common man.”
“The department of sports is apprised of the matter on imposition of stamp duty on arms licenses and is looking into the issue,” said director, sports and youth welfare, Upendra Jain.
Not only sportspersons but the stamp duty is likely to have an adverse impact on employment options too. A large number of people from Gwalior and Chambal division, mostly ex-servicemen are working as security guards. They owe their jobs to holding an arms license. The salary they demand depends on the weapon they possess, the lowest scales for shotgun license holders and highest scales for handgun license holders. With enhancement in stamp duty, employability of security guards could be affected as hiring them could be more expensive.
The state government has given weapons to a large number of police officers as rewards for gallantry. Besides this, regular citizens who have displayed courage have also been rewarded with weapons by the state government. They too are upset with the imposition of stamp duty and are comparing it to the giving of a gift and then being asked to pay for it.
“It is a peculiar situation if police officers and others who have been rewarded with weapons by the state government for courageous acts are asked to pay stamp duty on these arms licenses,” said retired IPS officer Hari Singh Yadav, a recipient of the President gallantry medal and a revolver by the state government.