We do not have specific rules or guidelines for issuing arms licences, the state government told the Bombay High Court.
Additional government pleader Nitin Deshpande made the revelation while replying to a public interest litigation (PIL) against Jamshed Ashraf, revenue minister of Bihar, who obtained an arms licence using fake documents.
Ashraf had allegedly obtained an arms licence from the Nhava-Sheva police station, which is located in Uran taluka of Raigad. Filed by Atul Bhagat, an activist of the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena, the PIL alleged that Ashraf had obtained the arms licence using a forged ration card.
Justice Ranjana Desai asked the government what it plans to do to ensure that arms licences were not obtained using forged documents. She added, “In places like Jammu & Kashmir, one may need arms, but Mumbai is not such a bad place.”
Uday Warunjikar, Bhagat’s advocate, pointed out to the court that the government had admitted in its affidavit that a non-Mumbai resident was issued an arms licence. Also, on January 15, 2009, when the PIL was filed, the same evening, Ashraf had issued a press note stating that he had already surrendered his arms licence. T he note mentioned that he once had an arms licence, which was issued by the Raigad police, and he had surrendered it after contesting and winning the assembly elections in Bihar.
In the statement, Ashraf said that he had obtained the licence five years back as he was living in Navi Mumbai at that time.