Jammu: The Jammu and Kashmir government has revoked a ban on the issuance of arms licences imposed after it had come to light that district authorities issued over 2.78 lakh such permits illegally during 2012-16, officials said on Thursday.
In an order issued on Wednesday, the government allowed district magistrates to issue arms licences with a new set of additional guidelines such as mandatory verification of Aadhaar for proof of identity before any application is even considered.
The order bars district magistrates from delegating powers concerning issuance, renewal or any other allied services under the Arms Rules to any subordinate.
The move comes in the aftermath of terror strikes in Rajouri of Jammu region after which the administration decided to resume arming the village defence committees in its fight against militancy.
As per the order a district magistrate (DM) will issue arms licences only to a district resident, and in no case shall they either grant a licence or renew one for an applicant not residing within their jurisdiction.
DMs shall seek a “specific report” from the police certifying the applicant’s area of residence before processing any application, it stated.
“In no case, the District Magistrates shall deviate from Rules 17 and Rule 24 of Arms Rules, 2016, concerning the addresses of the licensee,” the order said.
The new rules make it mandatory for the district magistrates to obtain a report from the CID wing of the Jammu and Kashmir Police regarding the character and antecedents of the applicant, in addition to a police verification prescribed under the Arms Rules, 2016.
This is to ensure that the licensing authority is in a position to ascertain the suitability of granting a licence in each case based on the assessment made by the CID, particularly about the conduct of the applicant in social and public life, as also internal security considerations, the order said.
A committee under the chairmanship of the Special DG, CID, shall be constituted to examine each case for grant of individual arms licence, keeping in view “the prevailing security environment”, it added.
“A report in this behalf shall be forwarded by the CID to the district magistrate concerned (under intimation to the Home Department), for appropriate consideration, subject to fulfilment of the relevant conditions laid down in Arms Rules, 2016,” the order said.
“The district magistrates shall personally ensure that every service to be provided under the Arms Rules, including the grant of a licence, renewal of licence, an extension of area validity, entry of arms/ammunition, registration in case of change of residence of the licensee etc. are mandatorily done through NDAL/ALIS portal, and physical record (duly authenticated) of all such entries which are made on the said portal are maintained concurrently in their offices,” it read.
The applications for arms licences will have to be made to the district magistrates only through online modes — licensing portal NDAL-ALIS, the order said.
“The district magistrates shall personally ensure that date/detail of any prospective licensee or a licensee accessing any service under Arms Rules, uploaded on NDAL-ALIS portal, is correct and error-free,” it said.
The district magistrates will have to coordinate with district superintendents of police to keep track of all the licensees within their jurisdiction. They should ensure that the licensees adhere to the area validity of the licence.
The CBI registered the first set of FIRs on October 16, 2018 in connection with alleged irregularities in the grant of 2.78 lakh arms licences in 22 districts between 2012-16.
In December 2019, it carried out searches at a dozen locations in Srinagar, Jammu, Gurgaon and Noida on the premises of former district collectors and magistrates of Kupwara, Baramulla, Udhampur, Kishtwar, Shopian, Rajouri, Doda, Pulwama, and several other places.
“During investigation and scrutiny of documents, the role of certain gun dealers was found who in connivance with the public servants i.e. the then DM and ADM of the concerned district had allegedly issued such illegal arms licences to the ineligible persons. It was also alleged that the persons who got these licences were not residents of the places from where the said arms licences were issued,” CBI spokesperson R C Joshi had said in a statement.
It is alleged in the FIR that former public servants, in cahoots with other accused, issued arms licences to non-residents of the state in violation of rules and received illegal gratification.