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Allahabad High Court rejects lawyer’s plea for arms licence, directs him to seek protection in case of genuine threat

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The Allahabad High Court has rejected a lawyer’s application for an arms licence, stating that an Advocate desiring to have a firearm licence for his personal and professional safety, would be a very dangerous practice.

A Single Bench of Justice Saurabh Shyam Shamshery passed this order on October 5, on a petition filed by Ram Milan, who claimed himself to be an Advocate practising at District Court, Allahabad.

The Court said that in this case, the petitioner has claimed himself to be an active Advocate, who desires to have an arm licence for his personal and professional safety. The profession of Advocate is a noble profession. An Advocate always appears fearlessly before the Court to protect the rights of his clients. In case there is a threat in the mind of an Advocate, the entire basis of nobleness of the profession would fall.

If such applications are allowed without any concrete basis, a day will come that every Advocate will carry an arm inside the Court premises. Every Advocate has a weapon of his legal arguments with bullets of judgments passed by High Courts and the Supreme Court in support of his submission, which are enough to provide safety to his profession and client and are sufficient to demand justice from the Courts, it added.

“Normally they do not need firearms for their professional safety. It is made clear that there is no bar for the Advocate to apply for a firearm licence and their application can be considered in accordance with law under the provisions of Arms Act, 1959 read with Arms Rules, 2016. However, a general trend to have a firearm licence by an Advocate without any good reason is not appreciable and it is not in the interest of the noble profession of Advocate,” the court ruled. In case the petitioner has genuine threat from the accused, he is always at liberty to approach the police authorities to seek protection under the Witness Protection Scheme, 2018,” the order read.

The petitioner said he had applied for a firearm licence for revolver under Section 13 of the Arms Act, 1959 read with the Arms Rules, 2016 for his personal and professional safety on the ground that there was an attempt to murder him and some locals tried to molest female members of his family by entering his house.

In this regard, two First Information Reports were registered under Sections 147, 323, 504, 506 IPC and 3(2)(Va) SC/ST Act, Police Station Bara, District Allahabad and in another case under Sections 323, 354, 504, 506 IPC and 3(1)(10) SC/ST Act, Police Station Bara, District Allahabad.

It was further disclosed that in the first case, no charge sheet has been filed till date, however in the second case, the charge sheet has been filed and the matter is pending for trial. The petitioner has also filed an affidavit before the Licensing Authority in this regard.

Mani Shanker Pandey, Counsel for the petitioner, submitted that Ram has to travel for the purpose of his profession and for his personal and professional safety, a firearm licence is required. The Counsel added that the accused had threatened Ram and were pressurising him to compromise on criminal cases.

The grounds for rejection of firearm licence that the petitioner has no case under victims of crime or having genuine need of weapon were not correct because the petitioner sought firearm licence on the ground of personal safety and not as a victim of crime, therefore, the orders passed by the Licensing Authority as well as the Appellate Authority were bad in law and liable to be set aside, noted the plea.

The submissions were vehemently opposed by the Standing Counsel appearing for State-Respondents. He submitted that the Licensing Authority, on the basis of material available and taking note of the police report as well as the status of criminal cases, came to the conclusion that the petitioner has no ground for grant of firearm licence. The subjective satisfaction of the Licensing Authority was based on material available.

It was specifically stated in the order that there was no material on record to show that the petitioner had been a victim of crime or had genuine need for firearm licence. It was well-settled that subjective satisfaction of Licensing Authority cannot be interfered in writ jurisdiction in absence of any reasonable ground, added the standing Counsel for the Respondents.

The Court said, “There is no documentary evidence on record. Neither the registration of petitioner as an Advocate nor any membership with the District Bar Association nor any document to show that he is active in profession, are on record. The petitioner has not placed any record about the present status of criminal cases, except that in one case, a trial is pending, without disclosing the status of trial.

“The contention that the accused are extending continuous threat to petitioner to enter into compromise in aforesaid criminal cases is not supported by any evidence or document. Even no complaint has been filed by the petitioner in this regard. He has not even approached the concerned authority to take protection under the Witness Protection Scheme 2018,” it added.

The bench said that the subjective satisfaction of Licensing Authority cannot be interfered by the Court under the writ jurisdiction in absence of any material, there was no basis for such satisfaction or the basis of satisfaction was based on surmises and conjectures. Even the contention of the petitioner that there was an attempt to murder was not supported by the offences, under which the aforesaid criminal cases were registered.

The Court further noted, “Rule 12 of Arms Rules, 2016 provides certain factors, which have to be taken into consideration by the Licensing Authority while granting a firearm licence. It includes legitimate and genuine reasons and also that the very nature of his business, profession, job or otherwise has genuine requirements to protect his life and property.

In this case, the Licensing Authority took into consideration the above factors and on the basis of material available found that the petitioner’s case does not fall under the aforesaid category and rejected the application for grant of firearm licence, the Bench observed.

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