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Wary Of Those Who Seek Fire-Arm License To Flaunt/Parade In Public As Fashion Trend: Madhya Pradesh High Court To Authorities

Sparsh Upadhyay
21 Jun 2021 4:37 AM GMT
Wary Of Those Who Seek Fire-Arm License To Flaunt/Parade In Public As Fashion Trend: Madhya Pradesh High Court To Authorities
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Stressing that an individual's own feeling of insecurity is an important factor while granting the fire-arm license, the Madhya Pradesh High Court ruled that the Authority, however, must be wary of those needs which are fanciful or simply pretentious or purely fired by a desire to flaunt or parade in public the fire-arm as a fashion trend.The Bench of Justice S.A.Dharmadhikari remarked:"It is...

Stressing that an individual's own feeling of insecurity is an important factor while granting the fire-arm license, the Madhya Pradesh High Court ruled that the Authority, however, must be wary of those needs which are fanciful or simply pretentious or purely fired by a desire to flaunt or parade in public the fire-arm as a fashion trend.

The Bench of Justice S.A.Dharmadhikari remarked:

"It is now a settled law that as possession of a non-prohibited fire-arm helps effectuate a person's right to protect himself, the right is considered as a part of fundamental right under Article 21 of the Constitution of India, subject of course to reasonable restrictions."

Further, observing that granting a licence should be the rule and refusal an exception, for reasons to be recorded in writing, the Court said:

"An individual's own feeling of insecurity is an important factor. So, it needs to be respected and considered on the touch-stone of his own psyche, physical and mental make up and other factors contained in section 14 of the Arms Act"

It may be noted that Section 13 of the Arms Act deals with the grant of license and Section 14 of the Arms Act is about the refusal of the license.

The matter before the Court

A businessman submitted that he was required to carry on the business in the entire territory of district Gwalior and nearby areas including remote areas and since Gwalior areas is also notified as dacoit affected area and, therefore, it was necessary for him to possess a revolver/pistol.

Therefore, he had applied for an arms licence for his self-defence for possessing and carrying an un-prohibited firearm under sections 3 and 4 of the Arms Act, 1959 before District Magistrate, Gwalior.

The report was called from the Police. Even the Superintendent of Police recommended the case of the petitioner for issuance of licence.

Thereafter, the matter was referred to the State Government, which rejected the application on the sole ground of absence of any threat to the life of the petitioner.

Being aggrieved the petitioner challenged the order of rejection in the instant petition.

Point of law

As per Section 13 of the Arms Act, the licencing authority has to consider the issue of grant of licence or otherwise by following the procedure under Section 13 of the Act and the licence can be refused as per the provision of Section 14 of the Act.

Section 14 delineates the situations where a licence is to be mandatorily refused. These situations are as under:-

  1. Where licence under section 3, or 4 or 5 is required in respect of any prohibited arm or prohibited ammunition;
  2. Where the licensing authority is satisfied that the person requiring a licence is prohibited by Arms Actor by any other law from acquiring or possessing or carrying any arms or ammunition.
  3. Where the person requiring a licence is of unsound mind;
  4. Where the person desirous of having a licence is unfit for holding the licence under the Arms Act;
  5. Where the licensing authority considers it necessary for the security of the public peace or public safety to refuse the licence.

Herein, it may be noted that note that ground on which the application had been rejected i.e. absence of any threat on life or property of a person, is not available to the authorities to reject/refuse the application mandatorily.

Court's observations

At the outset, the Court noted that the Authorities ought to have considered the relevant criterion i.e. genuineness of the need of a person, examined from the individual's own perception and his security wants in the light of his mental and physical makeup and factors for a person to hold the licence under Section 14 of the Arms Act.

Importantly, the Court said:

"If the absence of threat to the property is not a criterion for refusal of a licence, it can also be found inferentially that absence of threat to the person of the applicant would be no criteria for refusal of the licence"

Observing this, the Court noted that there are no factors which make the petitioner unsuitable or incompetent for acquiring and possessing a firearm licence.

Unfortunately, the court added, no relevant factors have been considered by the State Authorities before passing the impugned order. The impugned order is absolutely a non-speaking order and dehors the situation contemplated in section 14(1) of the Act.

Accordingly, the impugned order was set aside and the State Authorities were directed to reconsider the claim of the petitioner for grant of arms licence strictly in accordance with the provisions of section 14 of the Act and pass a reasoned and speaking order within a period of three months.

Case title - Gurdeep Singh Dhinjal Vs. State of M.P. and others

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