Decided on July 29,1952



Subba Rao, J. - (1.) C. M. P. No 7676 of 1951 is an application under Article 226 of the Constitution of India to issue a Writ of Mandamus directing the District Magistrate, Cuddapah, to issue a licence applied for by the petitioner for the possession of a single-barrel cartridge gun No. 12 bore (S. B. B. L.). C. M. P. No. 7677 of 1951 is an application by the same party for issue of a Writ of 'Certiorari' to call for the records of the District Magistrate, Cuddapah, and to quash his order dated 9-3-1951. The petitioner is a citizen of the Indian Union residing in the village of Anantharjupet, Kodur firka, Cuddapah district. It is stated in the affidavit that both on the eastern and southern side of the village, where his lands are situated, there are reserve forests & also unreserved forests and that these forests are infested by wild animals of various types like deer, stag, sambur, wild pigs, cheetahs, bears and tigers. As those animals cause considerable destruction of food crops and of cattle, the petitioner applied on 2-1-1951 to the respondent for a licence for a single-barrel cartridge gun No. 12 Bore (S. B. B. L.) for the purpose of hunting and the protection of crops from wild animals. On 19-3-1951, the petitioner received an order of the respondent refusing the grant of a licence, without any reasons being assigned therefor. It is alleged that in his own village licences were given for other persons on similar grounds. The respondent in his counter states that he was satisfied that the petitioner was not a suitable person to be entrusted with a firearm and that in 'bona fide' exercise of his discretion he refused the licence to the petitioner.
(2.) Learned counsel for the petitioner raised before me the following points: 1. The Magistrate has no power to refuse a licence. 2. The refusal of the licence to acquire and hold a gun is a violation of his fundamental right under Article 19(1)(f) of the Constitution of India. Mr. Vepa Sarathy for the Government contended that a right to acquire and hold a gun is not a right to hold property within the meaning of the said Article but is a right created by the Arms Act, and the petitioner cannot, therefore, ask for a licence as of right. Assuming that Article 19(1)(f) applies, he argued that the provisions of the Arms Act and the Rules made thereunder impose only reasonable restrictions within the meaning of Article 19(5). The relevant provision of the Arms Act and the Rules framed thereunder read as follows: Section 5: No person shall manufacture, convert or sell, or keep, offer or expose for sale, any arms, ammunition or military stores except under a licence and in the manner and to the extent permitted thereby.... Section 17: Power to make rules as to licences. The Central Government may, from time to time by notification in the official Gazette, make rules to determine the officers by whom, the form in which, and the terms and conditions, on and subject to which, any licence shall be granted; and may...... Section 19 : For breach of Sections 5, 6, 10, 13 to 17. Whoever commits any of the following offences (namely): (a) manufactures, converts or sells, or keeps, offers or exposes for sale, any arms, ammunition or military stores in contravention of the provisions of Section 5; .... shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to three years, or with fine, or with both. Rule 43: Discretion and control of authorities empowered to grant licences -- (1) Every authority empowered to grant or renew a licence or to give his previous sanction to such grant or renewal may, in his discretion, (a) refuse to grant or renew such licence or to give such sanction, or (b) where the authority is subordinate to a provincial Government, refer the application for orders to such provincial Government; Provided that in any case in which such authority refuses to grant or renew a licence, the applicant for such grant or renewal may appeal to the immediate official superior of the authority so refusing. In the Province of Madras the Board of Revenue shall be considered to be the immediate official superior of the District Magistrates for the purpose of such appeals. (2) Every such authority shall exercise all powers and perform all duties conferred or imposed by these rules, subject to the control of the executive authorities to whom he is subordinate".
(3.) The schedule to the rules gives the forms of the application and that of the licence issued under the Act.;

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