“Section 21 of the Arms Act 1959 clearly lays down the procedure deposition of such arms or ammunition where the possession ceases to be lawful”
The Lieutenant Governor’s Administration in the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir has ‘ordered’ the legal heirs of the deceased Arms license holders to deposit the weapons held by them in their possession with the nearest police station, as per the provisions of Arms Act, 1959 and relevant Arms Rules.
The government has also made it clear that such possession ceases to be lawful under section 21 of the Arms Act 1959. The government has identified at least 91 Arms License holders in Jammu, who were issued arms licenses by the license authorities in the past have expired and their legal heirs are in possession of the weapon as they have applied for transfer/ grant of fresh license in their favour.
“Rule 25 of Arms Rules, 2016 provides that the licensee authority may grant a license (a) after the death of licensee, to his legal heir; or (b) in any other case, on the licensee attaining the age of 20 years or on holding the firearm for 25 years, whichever is earlier, to any legal heir nominated by him, subject to the fulfillment of eligibility conditions under the Act and Rules by the said legal heir and there are no adverse remarks in the police report,” reads the order, adding, “Whereas, 91 Arms License holders, who were issued arms licenses by the license authorities in the past have expired and their legal heirs are in possession of the weapon as they have applied for transfer/ grant of fresh license in their favour.”
It further states that Government of Jammu and Kashmir Home Department vide order No. 922-Home of 2018 dated 17.07.2018 has ordered that no fresh individual licenses shall be issued by the District Magistrates of State Jammu and Kashmir in terms of Section 14(1)(b)(ii) of Arms Act 1959 till further orders; and as such issuance of fresh licenses to legal heirs has not been processed
“In view of the aforesaid rule position, J&K Government Home Department was requested vide letter No. 1989 /DMJ /21 dated: 29.06.2021 to impart necessary instructions and guidance in disposal of these applications for the transfer/ grant of Arms Licenses of the deceased Arms License holders to their legal heirs under section 25 of Arms Rules,” reads the order, adding that J&K Government Home Department vide their Communication No. Home/ARMS /68/2021/CC-30810 dated: 09.08.2021 has advised that the instant matter be examined with reference to the extant legal provisions contained in the Arms Act, 1959 and Arms Rules, 2016 more specifically with regard to the deposition of the Arms Licenses.
Section 21 of the Arms Act 1959 clearly lays down the procedure of deposition of such arms or ammunition where the possession ceases to be lawful. In view of the above and the provisions of Arms Act, 1959 and Arms Rules it is hereby ordered that: applicants/ legal heirs of the deceased Arms license holders shall deposit the weapons held by them in their possession with the nearest police station within stipulated time against a proper receipt from the concerned in charge of the police station.
Meanwhile, a senior officer in the Home Department, wishing anonymity stated that the order is in backdrop of the controversy over a fake license racket.
“The government has expedited its process to hunt down people involved in a fake arms license racket,” said the officer, adding that the weapons of such license holders, which so far have not been transferred to the legal heir or are in process, have to be deposited with the police till further orders.
When asked about how much time it can take to resume the process of issuing a license, the officer was uncertain and clueless.