New Delhi: The Supreme Court has held that
a person cannot claim any right to import fire arms from
abroad without a proper license issued by the Directorate
General of Foreign Trade, as prescribed under the Centre`s
EXIM (export import) policy.
A bench of Justices R V Raveendran and R M Lodha said
if the government has framed a policy to restrict the import
of arms only to renowned shooters and rifle clubs, then it
cannot be challenged as being illegal.
"What is important to be noticed is that in the light
of the Exim Policy, the import of firearms is permissible only
against an import licence issued by the DGFT to renowned
shooters/rifle clubs for their own use on the recommendation
of the Department of Youth Affairs and Sports and the
appellant has been denied import licence because he is not
covered by this category," the bench said in a judgement.
The apex court passed the judgement while dismissing
the appeal filed by Anirudh Singh Katoch challenging a
verdict of the Delhi High Court to detain three firearms
brought by him in his baggage after he returned from the US,
where he went for studies and worked briefly.
Katoch had brought along with him three fire arms --
Walther PPKS Pistol, NPB Rifle and a DBBL gun, on the ground
that he possessed a valid license under the Arms Act.
However, the Customs authorities confiscated the
weapons and his writ petition challenging the confiscation
was dismissed by the High Court, which interpreted the rules to
state that a person has no inherent right to import arms
unless permitted by the DGFT.
Aggrieved, he appealed in the apex court.
Dismissing the appeal, the apex court said, "The
Division Bench has rightly considered the provisions contained
in Customs Act, 1962, Baggage Rules, 1959 Act and Rules framed
thereunder, 1992 Act and the Exim Policy and did not commit
any error in holding that a person is not entitled by virtue
of 1959 Act or the Rules framed thereunder to bring into India
such licensed firearms, if any provision of law prohibits or
restricts the bringing of such articles."