Sale of NSP weapons must be under strict scrutiny and supervision of the Competent Authority

Supreme Court: In the writ petition highlighting the issue of illegal selling of “Prohibited/NSP bore-weapons” obtained by the Army Personnel through Central Ordinance Depot (COD), Jabalpur on the basis of the order passed by the Allotment Committee, the 3-judge bench of T.S. Thakur, CJI and A.M. Khanwilkar and Dr. D.Y. Chandrachud, JJ held that the sale of NSP weapons must be under strict scrutiny and supervision of the Competent Authority in accord with the provisions of the Arms Act and the Rules framed thereunder including the Defence Services Regulations without any exception.

The petitioner had alleged that the weapons have been sold to the general public including to persons with criminal records, in breach of relevant Rules and provisions of the Arms Act, 1959. It was further stated by the petitioner that the licensing authority even in the State of Rajasthan and in particular Sriganganagar District, a border State of India have reportedly granted Arms Licenses without due verification and no follow up action has been taken by the concerned Authority of the State of Rajasthan in spite of an enquiry report by the Collector. He, hence, sought that an enquiry be directed through an independent agency like CBI to unravel the conspiracy and to take action against the concerned officers including Army Personnel involved in the stated arms license scandal in the District of Sriganganagar, Rajasthan.

The Court, hence, noticed that the issue raised by the petitioner has resulted in unraveling of the irregularities and illegalities committed by the concerned officers. That, however, has now been redressed by the appropriate authority by taking suitable action against the erring Army Personnel. The affidavits filed from time to time by the appropriate authority also revealed that criminal action is instituted against the erring persons, which, in most cases, has been taken to its logical end and some are pending trial. However, it was directed that the appropriate Authorities/Court must dispose of the pending matter(s) if any, expeditiously in accordance with law.

It was also noticed that there is already a firm procedure prescribed for issuance of prohibited and non-prohibited weapons in the shape of provisions of the Arms Act and the Rules framed thereunder and including the periodical instructions issued by the Department in that behalf, nothing more needs to be done. The Court, however, appreciated the initiative taken by the petitioner in filing this petition and bringing to the fore such a sensitive issue. [Arvind Kumar Sharma v. Union of India, 2016 SCC OnLine SC 822, decided on 16.08.2016]

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