Mere registration of criminal case cannot be a ground for revocation of arms license under Section 17 of Arms Act, 1959

Bombay High Court: Allowing petition filed by member of a political party challenging revocation of his arms license by the Police Commissioner, the Division Bench of Naresh H. Patil and Prakash D. Naik JJ. held that revocation of arms license for the security of public peace or for public safety under Sec. 17(3)(b) of the Arms Acts, 1959 requires more material than a mere registration of criminal case and cannot be exercised lightly in an arbitrary manner.

The counsel for the petition pleaded that there had been no incidence of misuse of the weapon and no criminal action against the petitioner had arisen in last ten years during the continuation of the license. The show-cause and the order for revocation erroneous and did not reflect subjective satisfaction. It was contended on behalf of the respondent authorities that the criminal records had been looked into when report was required for All India license to the petitioner and when the inquiry revealed a number of cases in the criminal record, the authorities issued a show-cause notice and subsequently revoked the license.

While passing the order, the Court examined  Sec. 13 and 17 of the Arms Act relating to grant and revocation of license and held that the Licensing authority can revoke a license under Sec 17(3)(b) on being subjectively satisfied that continuation of the license endangers public peace and security. However, in the present case, there had been no incidence of misuse of the weapon and the authorities lacked enough material to pass an order for revocation. The authority is required to record the circumstances under which the possession of arms license was contrary to provision of Section 17 of Arms Act, and mere registration of criminal case would not attract the provision. Therefore, the Court passed an order quashing the order of revocation by Commissioner of Police and the order passed in appeal by the Home Ministry of the State Government. The Court  also directed Commissioner of Police, Pune to consider whether any ground enumerated under Section 17(b) of the Arms Act, 1959 for cancelling the Arms licence granted to the petitioner still exists . In case no such circumstances exist, the Court directed to renew Petitioner’s arms license. [Ajay Jayawant Bhosale v. Commissioner of Police, Pune and State of Maharashtra 2016 SCC OnLine Bom 5019, decided on 15 July, 2016]

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