Arms licence norms tightened | delhi | Hindustan Times
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Arms licence norms tightened

With criminals increasingly finding it easy to lay hands on licensed weapons, the government has also done away with a provision that allowed licence without police verification, reports Satya Prakash.

delhi Updated: Mar 04, 2010 11:46 IST
Satya Prakash

The Centre has tightened norms for issue, renewal and transfer of arms licences.

With criminals increasingly finding it easy to lay hands on licensed weapons, the government has also done away with a provision that allowed licence without police verification.

It has written to states and union territories to ensure strict compliance of the revised guidelines, the Centre has said in an affidavit filed in the Supreme Court. Home Minister P. Chidambaram will take up the matter with the chief ministers as well so that illegal sale of arms can be effectively addressed.

The ministry’s affidavit is in response to a public interest litigation filed in 2007 by advocate Arvind Kumar Sharma for a CBI probe into a gunrunning case allegedly involving army and Rajasthan government officials after HT wrote about it.

In a September 5, 2007 report, HT said army officers were selling personal weapons in the grey market with the help of a cartel of arms dealers in the border districts of Rajasthan.

The state governments/district magistrates have been told not to delegate powers given to them under the Arms Act, 1959. They have been also been told not to issue licences without verifying the antecedents of an applicant.

If a weapon held by defence personnel has to be sold to a civilian, permission from concerned authorities is a must.

The ministry admitted that in several cases either police verification reports were not obtained or incompetent authorities issued licences. In some cases, district magistrates gave licences to even those who didn’t reside in the area of their jurisdiction.

The states have been asked to advise deputy commissioners/district collectors to scrupulously follow the arms Act, the affidavit said.

The Rajasthan government has admitted before the court irregularities in 325 cases. As many as 227 licences were cancelled and 98 cases were being looked into. In at least 41 cases, licences were issued to persons with a criminal background from neighbouring Punjab.

The state government has also done away with powers of a tehsildar (a revenue official) to grant arms licences.

For prohibited bore weapons, the home ministry is the licensing authority, while for non-prohibited bore weapons, a district magistrate can issue licences.