1 Nov 2010 06:35
Issues related with Arms licence
Amitabh Thakur <amitabhth@...>
2010-11-01 05:35:35 GMT
2010-11-01 05:35:35 GMT
I had three Arms licences in my name till only a month back. One of them was for revolver, one for rifle and one for gun. My wife Nutan also had the same kind of three Arms licences. The first one of these we got in the year 1996 when I was very new in the service. The second one we got the next year when I was at Pithoragarh. The last one we again got together when I was posted at Ballia. Three is the upper limit for the number of Arms licence an individual can have. With each of them, we also got the corresponding Arms sooner or later. The last weapon that I purchased was in the year 2007 when I was posted at Ballia for the second time.
We got our licences issued within no time. I was a member of the Indian Police Service and that was enough to get the licence sanctioned within minutes. I remember I had been thinking of getting an Arms licence sanctioned for many a days and suddenly one day I went to the then District Magistrate of Moradabad. He was sitting in his office, asked me the reason for coming and I said I wanted an Arms licence for myself and one for Nutan. He laughed, called his Assistant and ordered him to bring the Arms licence form. I submitted them the next day and while I was sitting in the office itself, I got my licence issued. The other two cases were no different.
I am sure this must have happened with many of us, who have any kind of power and authority attached with them. But then I also know of hundreds of cases in which people have not got their Arms licence issued even after years. They go on submitting their completely filled forms which moves from one office to another and by the time, it has reached the District Magistrate’s office, some kind of election gets declared and with it the Model code of Conduct gets imposed. Thus, the entire process is often repeated because in many states, a time limit has been prescribed between the submission of the Police Report and the sanction of licence by the licencing authority, viz. the DM.
Yes, many a reasons can be ascribed to this delay. In fact, anyone who is closely associated with the administrative setup knows fully well that many of these cumbersome and circuitous processes have in fact been devised deliberately to somehow control the number of licences issued. This is because administrators and police officers related with law and order feel that if the number of Arms in the district (or region) becomes uncontrollably high, then it could pose a serious danger to law and order problem. They genuinely feel that this might even become a threat to the security of the State. Yes, there could be varying viewpoints on this but the reason has its own genuine validity.
But the real question is-“Why shall a common man suffer because of this thought?” What I want to say is that the Arms Act 1959 and the accompanied Arms Rule do not prescribe any such limit in the number of Arms licence to be issue. Yet the pragmatic view seems to warrant such a number. Thus if either a definite total number of Arms is prescribed (which is known to one and all) or some time limit is given within which the decision on the licence form gets taken up, a lot of unnecessary harassment and wasteful exercise in this direction will actually be saved.
We all know that there is a craze in many people in India (and definitely in the states of UP and Bihar) to own a weapon (first preference being a valid and legal one) and hence from my own experiences in the districts, I can say that there is no other issue that occupies the District Magistrate’s (and to some extent that of the Superintendent of Police’s) time and energy than the grant of Arms licence. Many a times people complain of partisan attitude and favouritism on the part of administration to some selected applicants based on various consideration. Other less fortunate people go on applying for years, moving from one office to another (right from the Police station and Sub-divisional Office) to the higher ones in the district only to go on circulating in this never ending loop.
This exercise and these efforts can be minimized and this energy channelized in some other purposeful work only if-
1. There is a more clear and well-specified policy on the total number of licences to be issued in each district/ region
2. The arms licence application gets disposed of within a given time, on the basis of first come first serve basis. Disposal would obviously include rejection as much as grant of licence.
This is a very serious and important issue that district administrations in so many States face day in and day out. It is high time that a responsive democratic country like ours takes care of this problem which does not need much of efforts and brainstorming and hardly has any effect on its exchequer.
I end this with one more personal note. Recently it came to our mind that we had not used our Arms even once during these years and also presumed that we would never ne using them in our lives. Hence it seemed better and prudent to us that we get our Arms licence cancelled and accordingly sell our Arms. The first stage is over and we are waiting for the second one. But not everyone is fortunate enough to go through all this process, so easily and so fast.
Currently at IIM Lucknow
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