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Criminal case merely cannot be ground to revoke arms license, says HC

bombay high court

Mumbai : Mere registration of criminal case cannot be a ground to revoke an arms license, the Bombay High Court has held while directing Pune Commissioner of Police to consider afresh an application of a Shiv Sena leader seeking renewal of his license.

A division bench of Justices N H Patil and P D Naik gave the direction while hearing a petition filed by Shiv Sena leader Ajay Bhosale from Pune, challenging a February 2011 order of revocation of his arms licence passed by the Pune Police Commissioner.

The license was revoked on the ground that there were several criminal cases filed against Bhosale in 1991.

According to the petition, Bhosale, who was elected as municipal councillor in Pune in 2003, had applied for license to possess a fire arm for self-protection. The Pune police commissioner, being the licensing authority, granted the license which was renewed from time-to-time till 2009.

Bhosale’s lawyer S B Shetye argued that under section 17(B) of the Arms Act, license can be revoked only if the licensing authority deems it necessary for the security of public peace or for public safety.

Agreeing to this, the high court on July 15 observed that mere registration of criminal case cannot be a ground to revoke the license, and that the revocation order should clearly indicate that continuance of the license would be against public peace, safety and security.

“Nothing was placed before us by the respondents to indicate that the petitioner had misused the licensed weapon at any point of time in past, the HC said.

“The provisions of the Arms Act indicate that license can be cancelled or suspended if the licensing authority finds it necessary for the security of public peace or public safety. Merely because a criminal case is pending, the provisions of section 17 of the Arms Act would not be attracted,” the court observed.

The bench, while quashing the license revocation order, directed Pune Commissioner of Police to consider the application for renewal of license afresh and complete the process within two months.

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