Par panel raps Home Ministry over renewed arms policy

Last Updated: Friday, June 3, 2011 - 19:54

New Delhi: A Parliamentary committee has
strongly criticised the Home Ministry for hurriedly
implementing many new features of the existing arms policy
without seeking its formal approval and violating a decades
old practice.

"The committee fails to understand as to why the
Government had not felt it necessary to seek formal
Parliamentary approval before enforcing various new features
of the Policy, which included inter-alia amendments to the
Arms Acts and the Arms Rules even before introducing the
amendment Bill and amendments to the Rules.
"...This is against the basic democratic principle of
executive`s accountability to the legislature as per the
scheme of the Constitution," the Parliamentary Standing
Committee on Home Affairs has said in its report.

The panel`s observation came in the backdrop of
government`s proposal for incorporating new features in the
`Arms and Ammunition Policy for Individuals` and the `Arms and
Ammunition Manufacturing Policy`, brushing aside its views on
the matter.

"The committee decided to examine the subject `Arms, Fire
Arms and Ammunition` and felt that till such time the
committee had formulated its recommendations and observations
on the subject, the Ministry should not finalise the new
policy," the panel said.

According to the report, the Home Ministry had, on
December 21, 2009, put the drafts of new policies on its
website and invited comments from the general public by
January 6, 2010, apparently ignoring the committee`s view for
putting it on hold.

"The committee is constrained to note that instead of
responding to its suggestions and advice, the Ministry of Home
Affairs went ahead with the finalisation of the revised Arms
and Ammunition policy," it said.

The Parliamentary panel also came down heavily on the
Ministry of Home Affairs as well as the Home Minister for
making the draft policy document public before laying it in
Parliament.

"The Committee deprecates this attitude of the Ministry
of Home Affairs in general and Home Minister in particular in
ignoring a six-decades-old Parliamentary practice and
convention of first laying policy documents in Parliament and
then making them public," it said.
"It is a well established parliamentary practice that
Ministers make statements in the House in order to keep the
House informed of matters of public importance or to apprise
the House about Government policy in regard to a matter of
topical interest at the earliest opportunity," the panel said.

The policies were aimed at bringing changes in certain
procedures for acquisition and possession of firearms by
individuals, police verification before grant of arms
licences, quantity of ammunition permitted under various
categories, renewal of arms licences, sale of ordinary weapons
and for maintaining database for licences issued among other
amendments.

Terming the course of action adopted by the MHA as "ab
initio faulty ", the Committee asked the government to bring a
comprehensive Bill to amend the principal legislation after
due examination.

"Keeping in view the wide ranging implications of the New
Policy on the law abiding citizens and its enforcement, mostly
through executive fiat, the Committee recommends to the
Ministry of Home Affairs that they should put on hold the
whole exercise of implementation of the Policy.

"...thereafter notify a Revised Policy and then lay the
same on the Table of both Houses of Parliament," it added.

PTI



First Published: Friday, June 3, 2011 - 19:54

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