Saturday, February 23, 2019

Posted at: Feb 14, 2018, 2:03 AM; last updated: Feb 14, 2018, 2:03 AM (IST)

Need arms licence? Clear dope test first

Health Dept to ensure arrangements in all districts

Aman Sood

Tribune News Service

Patiala, February 13

Punjab has decided to make it mandatory for all applicants “to undergo a compulsory dope test” to qualify for a weapon licence.

The Punjab Health Department will soon make provisions for the mandatory dope test for arms licence applicant in all districts.

As per the new arms rules notified by the Ministry of Home Affairs and Justice in July 2016, an applicant needs to be examined for mental health and physical fitness with “clear mention that the applicant is not dependent on any intoxicating or narcotic substance”. However this crucial aspect for a weapon licence has been given a miss in the state with majority of the districts not asking the applicants for their “dope-free status”.

It was almost one and a half years back, that the Centre introduced the mandatory drug test for weapon licence, but the authorities in most parts of Punjab are yet to implement it.

Every month a district issues almost over a dozen weapon licences, which means even after the Central guidelines for a dope test, over 6,000 licences were issued without any such test. Figures procured by The Tribune reveal that the state has almost over 4.3 lakh licensed weapons.

Information gathered by The Tribune shows that barring a couple of districts, majority of the districts are issuing licences for weapons without this check, with officials either unaware of any such rule or yet to start with this procedure. In Punjab, District Magistrates are the arms licence issuing authorities in districts and they frame the rules when it comes to application fee and necessary police clearance certificates.

“We were not conducting dope tests till date, but the matter has been brought to my notice and we will soon start with the mandatory dope test for all applicants,” said Patiala DM, Kumar Amit. “I have held a meeting in this regard and applicants will now have to submit a certificate from a registered medical practitioner confirming that he/she is not on any psychotropic substance abuse,” he stated.

Punjab Minister for Health and Family Welfare Brahm Mohindra said he had had a word on the issue of dope tests with the Home Secretary and would soon get more details on this crucial issue as many districts would not be having necessary expertise for conducting these tests. “It (the Arms Act) will be studied in detail and we will make necessary arrangements for the districts at the earliest to ensure that applicants go through the mandatory dope tests before they get the weapon licence.”

Illegal weapon registration 

Explaining the modus operandi of weapon dealers, a police officer said through their contacts in the office of district magistrates, where a renewal or transfer of a firearm is done, these dealers get the illegal arm registered or transferred in the name of a genuine applicant. “The genuine applicant doesn’t know that an additional arm has been registered in his/her name. The additional weapon is passed on to illegal buyer,” he said. Similarly, some dealers connive with DC office clerks in many districts to get an all-India licence for their clients, showing them as Punjab residents, he said.


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