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Bombay High Court says offences registered against family not sufficient ground to revoke arms license

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The Bombay High Court has recently observed that simply because offences have been registered against the family members of a licensee, it is not sufficient reason to revoke the license of the petitioner.

The single-judge bench of Justice Sandeep K. Shinde observed that if the Licensing Authority seeks to revoke the license under Clause (b) under Section 17(3) Arms Act, 1959 that revocation of license was necessary for the security of the public peace or for public safety is sine qua non.

The District Magistrate, Daman in the exercise of the powers under Section 17(3)(b) of the Arms Act, 1959, revoked the petitioner’s arm license, vide order dated October 8, 2018. On appeal, the Administrator, Union Territory of Daman and Diu confirmed the order of the District Magistrate.

Gaurav Singh Rajawat, Collector, Daman filed an affidavit-in-reply to state that petitioner, son of exMP, Dahyabhai Patel, was held as accused in Nani Daman police station.

Relying on the affidavit of the Collector, Venegavkar Counsel for the Licensing Authority, Daman & Diu, Daman, argued that the orders cannot be faulted given the petitioner and his family’s criminal records, it was necessary in public interest to cancel the license. It therefore cannot be said to be arbitrary and, therefore, interference is not called for.

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However, in this case, the District Magistrate has simply accepted the report of the Sub-Divisional Police Officer dated September 26, 2018, without disclosing its contents and proceeded to cancel the license only on the ground that several offences have been registered against the petitioner’s brother and father. In fact, there is no material on record to establish necessary connection between the petitioner and his brother and father qua offences registered against them, the Court further observed.

The High Court while considering the offences registered against the petitioner, noted that the last offence registered against the petitioner was in the year 2010. Since then the petitioner’s license was renewed from time to time. In this fact situation, Licensing Authorities ought to have placed on record material wherefrom it could be inferred that necessity for cancelling the license. Neither District Magistrate nor Appellate Authorities have taken into consideration provisions of Section 17 of the Arms Act, 1959 at all, the Court held.

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“Their orders gave the impression of having been made in a mechanical manner. District Magistrate and Appellate Authorities ought to have fairly considered facts of the case. In fact, neither the order of the District Magistrate nor of the Appellate Authorities refer to or deal with the offences registered against the petitioner, which Collector has disclosed for the first time before this Court”, the Court said while quashing and setting aside the  order of the District Magistrate, Daman and of the Administrator, Union Territory of Daman and Diu.”

Brief facts, on report dated September 26, 2018 moved by the Sub-Divisional Officer, District Magistrate, Daman after hearing the petitioner, revoked the petitioner’s license on the ground that in view of the offences registered against the father and the brother of the petitioner, under the Indian Penal Code, 1860 and Official Secret Act, 1923, it would be in the interest of the public to cancel the license and accordingly, it was cancelled on October 8, 2018. As a result, the petitioner was directed to deposit the weapon at Nani Daman Police Station. Accordingly, the petitioner deposited the weapon.

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