Licensing Authority has to adhere to the conditions provided in the Arms Act for refusing grant of an Arms Licence

Bombay High Court: A Single Judge Bench comprising of KL Wadane, J. heard a criminal writ petitioner challenging the order of the respondents, wherein the Arms Licence application of the petitioner had been dismissed. The reason why petitioner had applied for an arms licence was because he feared that he and his family had threat from anti-social elements who held grudges against him since he worked as a string operationalist and had also become a successful businessman and agriculturist in a short period of time.

The respondents denied him a licence on the grounds that they did not think there was any threat to him or to his family; that his annual income for 2012-13 was only Rs. 4,11, 942 and that if they started granting licences to every businessman, then the number of arm licence-holders will increase.

Referring to Section 14 of the Arms Act of 1959 (which deals with the situations under which licensing authority can refuse the grant of a licence) the petitioner contended that the reasons stated by the authority were not mentioned under Section 14 and that “if a particular provision of a statute prescribes the grounds on which discretion is to be exercised, then such a discretion is to be exercised in accordance with the provisions”.

Section 14 lists the following grounds as reasons for refusal of licence- when it pertains to prohibited arms or ammunitions; when the licence seeker is prohibited from acquiring or carrying arms, is of an unsound mind, or is unfit for any other reason; or the refusal is for public peace or for public security; and that grant of licence shall not be refused merely because the person does not own or possess sufficient property.

Since the reasons mentioned by the respondents were contrary to the provisions of the Arms Act, the writ petition was allowed and the order of the respondent was quashed. [Ashok v. State of Maharashtra, 2018 SCC OnLine Bom 70, dated 12-01-2018]

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