Several serving and former army officers are involved in illegal sale of prohibited weapons and imported arms to criminals. Some arms dealers and Rajasthan government officials in the border districts of the state are also party to gun-running.
In an affidavit filed in the Supreme Court, the defence ministry said the court of inquiry (CoI) into the circumstances under which some serving/retired army personnel sold/purchased arms and ammunition of various calibres had been finalised. Necessary follow-up action was being taken against the delinquents, it said.
The CoI was ordered three days after the Hindustan Times reported on September 5, 2007 that army officers were selling their personal weapons in the grey market with the help of a cartel of ammunition dealers in Rajasthan’s border districts.
The ministry, however, said, “All the cases of sale of weapons, except a few, involved only two districts of Rajasthan — Bikaner and Sriganganagar.”
The affidavit was in response to a public interest petition filed in 2007 by advocate Arvind Kumar Sharma, who had sought a CBI probe into the racket.
Prohibited/non-service pattern bore weapons obtained from army personnel were being sold to general public and criminals, Sharma said.
Earlier, the Rajasthan government admitted before the court that hundreds of illegal arms licences were issued to criminals, including those from Punjab, in Sriganganagar with the connivance of state officials.
In an affidavit filed in the court in March 2009, the state government admitted that irregularities were found in 325 cases, of which 227 licences were cancelled and 98 were being looked into.
The Sriganganagar police had registered seven cases. Two additional district magistrates and employees of the district collector’s office were made accused and the CID (CB) probed the matter. But chargesheets had not been filed in three of these cases as the accused remained absconding, Rajasthan had said.
In at least 41 cases, arms licences were illegally issued to persons with a criminal background from Punjab.
A bench headed by Chief Justice of India K.G. Balakrishnan is likely to hear the petition on Monday.