Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, Mar 21:
Eminent RTI activist and environmentalist Dr Biswajit Mohanty has lodged a complaint with the Election Commission of India (ECI) calling for revocation of the blanket order issued by the Bhubaneswar-Cuttack Commissionerate police asking arms license holders to deposit their arms at police stations till elections are over.
In his complaint lodged with the ECI yesterday, Mohanty has stated that the Commissionerate Police’s order was in violation of the Instruction No. 112 of the Compendium of Instructions-2011.
The RTI activist has cited a review of previous guidelines by the Bombay High Court in CWP No. 835 of 2009 (Govind Vs.Vikram Kumar, Dist Magistrate & Ors.) .
Mohanty said the Bombay High Court laid down certain guidelines to be strictly observed by all authorities concerned in respect of deposit of licensed arms. Acting on the orders of the Bombay High Court, Instruction No. 112 was issued on 01.09.2009.
The activist has drawn the ECI’s attention to para 3.10 (page 344) of the Compendium of Instructions-2011 which says immediately after the announcement of elections, District Magistrates shall make a detailed and individual review and assessment (in accordance with the prevalent State laws) of all licence holders so that licensed arms in those cases where they consider it essential are impounded in order to ensure maintenance of law and order so essential for ensuring free and fair elections.
These arms should be deposited with the district authorities. Among cases which may need to be reviewed are the following: (a) Arms licenses of person released on bail, (b) Arms licenses of persons having a history of criminal offences, and (c) Arms licenses of persons previously involved in rioting at any time, especially during the election period.
“Thus, only those arms license holders, who fall under any one of the three categories mentioned above will come under review and assessment. Secondly, as per para 3.11, a Screening Committee in every District and in every Commissionerate Area needs to be set up and this shall screen the licenses placed before it for review and assessment,” the activist said in his petition.
Mohanty has contended that directing all Arms License holders of the Twin City to deposit their licensed arms indicates that no review and assessment of the licence holders has been carried out.
“A blanket order issued to deposit arms to every license holder in Odisha without review and assessment of License holders who are otherwise respectable citizens, not covered under any of the three categories mentioned in para 3.10, indiscriminately by the police authorities abrogated fundamental right to possess licensed arms,” said Mohanty in his complaint and termed such orders as illegal.
Mohanty sought clarifications and directives from the ECI to the Odisha Police that the Bhubaneswar-Cuttack Commissionerate to strictly follow Instruction No. 112 and only direct those categories of persons who are hit by para 3.10 (a) (b) and (c) to deposit their arms.