SHC stays decision to revoke prohibited bore arms licences

Lawmakers approached the court against the interior ministry’s decision to revoke the licences


Our Correspondent February 24, 2018
PHOTO: REUTERS

KARACHI: Lawmakers, including members of the Senate and provincial assembly, obtained on Friday a stay from the Sindh High Court (SHC) against the interior ministry’s decision to revoke licences issued to them for automatic arms of prohibited bore.

A two-judge, headed by Justice Aqeel Ahmed Abbasi, restrained the interior ministry from taking any action against the petitioners till further orders. In the meantime, it also issued notices to the interior secretary and others to submit their comments by March 27explaining the rationale behind the move to the cancel arms licences.

The bench was hearing a petition jointly filed by Senator Shahid Hassan Bugti, Sindh Assembly member Shabir Bijarani, Tabish Bugti and others challenging the federal government’s decision to revoke licences to carry sophisticated weapons of prohibited bore.

Earlier this month, another group of more than 70 automatic arms licence holders, including Sindh Assembly Speaker Agha Siraj Durrani, had obtained an identical interim order against Islamabad’s decision to revoke the licences issued to them. Granting the interim stay, the court had restrained the interior ministry from taking any action against the arms licence holders till further orders.

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The petitioners’ lawyer, Mohsin Kadir Shahwani, argued that the cancellation of the automatic weapons notification was a violation of provisions of Section 12 of the Pakistan Arms Ordinance, 1965. He alleged that his clients had not been given an opportunity of hearing, whereas after the 18th constitutional amendment, item No 17 in the concurrent legislative list pertaining to arms, firearms and ammunition now fell within the domain of the provinces. Therefore, the executive authority to administer the aforesaid law now vested in the respective provincial governments.

Shahwani said the recent terrorism incidents had exposed the law and order situation in the province, therefore, the sudden withdrawal of federally-issued prohibited bore arms licences from the petitioners would expose them to threats to their lives, safety and wellbeing.

He argued that the Supreme Court had repeatedly held that the grant of a licence was a privilege and the licensee acquired the right to the enjoyment of the privilege in accordance with the terms and condition of the licence.

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Therefore, the court was pleaded to suspend the interior ministry’s notification issued in December 2017 regarding revocation of the petitioners’ arms licences. In the meantime, the court was urged to restrain the interior ministry from cancelling the petitioners’ licences till final disposal of the case.

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