Why no full ban on ammonium nitrates: HC to Centre

Rajasthan High Court has directed officials of four central ministries to explain why there should not be a blanket ban on sale of ammonium nitrate.

Jaipur: The Rajasthan High Court has directed
officials of four central ministries to appear before it and
explain why there should not be a blanket ban on sale of
ammonium nitrate, which can be used for making explosives, in
the open market.

A single judge bench of Justice Mahesh Chandra Sharma
yesterday directed the under secretaries of Union Commerce,
Mining, Law and Home ministries to appear before it on
September 26 and explain the government`s stand.
"Some persons having licence for such explosive items are
misusing them by selling the chemicals to anti-social
elements," the court observed, taking serious view of the fact
that the explosive chemical is easily accessible to anyone in
open market.

"There should be a prescribed limit on giving such
explosive items to licencees by the concerned authorities,"
Justice Sharma noted and referred to various bomb attacks in
the past in many parts of the country in which ammonium
nitrate was used.

The court observed that ammonium nitrate is banned in
many countries, including Germany, Colombia, Ireland,
Philippines, China ando Afghanistan.

The direction came during hearing of a bail petition of
Abdul Rasheed alias Baniya, who was arrested from Alwar with
a huge quantity of ammonium nitrate and had been booked under
Explosives Substance Act.

Additional Solicitor General S S Raghav submitted that the
Centre has already banned the sale of ammonium nitrate.

However, Justice Sharma was not satisfied with the
response and said, "Although the government seems to have
woken up by banning open sale of ammonium nitrate, it has not
given a detailed instructions on how the ban will be made
"It is a commonly used fertilizer by farmers in India. The
government has specified that it will invoke penal action only
if the composition has 45 per cent or more ammonium nitrate
content but failed to appreciate that if the 45 per cent
ammonium nitrate is mixed with high quantity of gun powder,
the bomb can be of extremely high intensity and ban of the
fertilizer alone cannot make a difference."

Concerned over the frequent use of the chemical by terror
groups in making bombs, the government had in July this year
declared fertilisers having more than 45 per cent of ammonium
nitrate as an explosive substance.

"... The central government hereby declares that Ammonium
Nitrate or any combination containing more than 45 per cent of
Ammonium Nitrate by weight including emulsions, suspensions,
melts or gels shall be deemed to be an explosive," a gazette
notification of Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion
(DIPP) had said.

After the recent Mumbai blasts, the government had decided
to control free movement of ammonium nitrate in order to
prevent its use as explosives by terrorists.

Traces of ammonium nitrate were found from the blast sites
at Zaveri Bazar, Opera House and Dadar in the country`s
financial capital.


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