New Delhi: The Centre on Wednesday told the Delhi High Court that it is in the process of amending the Arms Act to provide "severe punishment" for illegal licencing and possession of firearms.
The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) also submitted that by way of a 2012 notification it has made it mandatory that unique identification numbers (UIN) be issued for every fresh arms licence as well as those being renewed.
Without the UIN, no arms licence shall be considered valid with effect from October 01, 2015, the ministry said in an affidavit placed before a bench of Chief Justice G Rohini and Justice RS Endlaw.
The ministry also said it has developed and launched a National Database of Arms Licences (NDAL) as an e-portal "to collect and monitor data of arms licences being issued in the country by states, union territories and Central Government".
Through NDAL, "all information about the type of arms, name of the licence holders, addresses, period of validity will be available with MHA" and "tracing of firearms in any crime or anti-national activity will be made easier", it said.
The affidavit also said that phase one of NDAL will be completed by October 2015 and second phase will be introduced under which application for arms licences can be submitted online.
The affidavit was filed in response to a PIL by an NGO, Paardarshita Public Welfare Foundation, which has alleged that fake arms licences issued from other states, including those in North East, are being used to procure firearms in the national capital.
The ministry claimed in its affidavit that it has cancelled 352 fake licences issued by Nagaland.
It also claimed that whenever any information, of fake arms licences being issued by a state, is received, central agencies are asked to give a report based on which the central government takes necessary steps to check such an illegal activity.
It also said that directions and notifications are also issued to state governments from time to time to take preventive or punitive measures with regard to issuance of fake licences.
On January 8, the court had sought the Centre and city government's responses on the procedure or law under which the people of national capital can keep arms issued on licence from other states.The NGO, in its plea, has alleged the Union Home Ministry had "failed to take action against mass scale use of illegal firearms in Delhi on the basis of fake arms licences issued in north eastern states like Nagaland, Sikkim and Assam".
It has claimed that fake arms licences were issued in the name of residents of the national capital and "registered in the licencing unit of Delhi Police with deep connivance of corrupt police officers..."
"The weapons purchased on these illegal arms licences were procured from government factories in India which are putting at risk lives of citizens as well as foreign dignitaries coming to India...," the petition has said.