Read Order: Suhail Singh Brar v. State Of Punjab And Anr.

Monika Rahar

Chandigarh, March 30, 2022: While dealing with a Writ Petition filed by a person whose arm (gun) license was not renewed by the concerned authority due to the pendency of an FIR against him wherein it was alleged that he made use of his gun in a sacrilege incident in 2015, the Punjab and Haryana High Court has directed the Licensing Authority-cum-District Magistrate, Faridkot to take a decision on the application for renewal of the arms licence of the petitioner while taking into consideration the applicability of the judgment as rendered in Brijesh Kumar Versus State of Haryana and others, CWP No.5724 of 2021

In Brijesh Kumar’s Case (Supra), it was held that the mere registration of FIR, by its nature is only the first information regarding the alleged crime; this fact has to be treated only as the first information of a crime, which would not carry with it the character of a statutory factor that can influence the right of the petitioner to hold a weapon. 

The petitioner, being a member of the National Rifle Association of India and of the US had four licensed weapons which were registered with the office of the District Magistrate (DM), Faridkot for which a regular licence was issued. 

In 2015 an FIR was registered pertaining to the incident of sacrilege of the Holy Book at villages Kotkapura and Behbal Kalan, resulting in injuries to protestors and the death of two. The petitioner, initially called as a Prosecution Witness, was later implicated as an accused in the said FIR and his .12 bore double barrel gun was taken into police possession. 

The office of the DM issued a show-cause notice to the petitioner containing the recommendation of the Special Investigating Team (SIT) to cancel the arms licence of the petitioner for violating the terms and conditions of his license. The petitioner filed his reply stating that there was no evidence on record to prove that the petitioner’s gun was used in the sacrilege incident. 

Also, since the license term expired, the petitioner moved an application seeking renewal of the arms licence for which he deposited a certain amount and the fee so deposited was accepted. However, on the same day itself, a show-cause notice was issued as to why the arms licence should not be cancelled in terms of Section 17(d) of the Arms Act, 1959, while stating that the petitioner was retaining arms after the expiry of the arms licence which was in violation of Section 15(v) of the Arms Licence Act, 1959. 

The petitioner approached the office of the Licensing Authority for renewal of his licence, however, the same was not renewed. Hence, the present writ was filed. During the pendency of proceedings in the High Court, another show-cause notice was issued to the petitioner asking why the incense should not be revoked in view of the pending FIR against him. 

The petitioner’s counsel relied upon Brijesh Kumar’s Case (Supra) to contend that mere registration of an FIR would not be sufficient ground to cancel the arms license. It was also submitted that the show cause notice was duly replied to, but no response was received as of date. It was argued that having accepted the licence fee, the authorities were bound to renew the licence as the weapons were required for his personal defence since he was cited as a witness to the incident.

The Court, after considering the submissions of the counsel argued that it was undisputed that the arms licence of the petitioner expired and there was an application on the record applying for renewal of his licence. Further, it was observed by the Court that show-cause notices were also issued as to why the licence of the petitioner should not be cancelled as the SIT recommended for the same. 

As of then, the Court noted that the application for renewal was not decided. Therefore, in view of the above, the Court opined that when a categoric stand was taken that the District Magistrate, Faridkot was yet to take a decision on the application for renewal, the Court found the writ petition to be premature and thus the writ petition was disposed of accordingly.

However, while disposing of this petition, the Licensing Authority-cum-District Magistrate, Faridkot was directed to take a decision on the application for renewal of the arms licence of the petitioner while taking into consideration the applicability of the judgment as rendered in Brijesh Kumar’s Case (supra). 

Also, the Court directed the petitioner to submit his reply to all the show cause notices issued to him, if not already replied to, in a time-bound manner. The decision on renewal of the arms licence was also directed by the Court to be taken expeditiously, in a time-bound manner. 

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