Hyderabad: The directions of the Election Commission pertaining to licensed gun holders surrendering their arms for the elections is causing some confusion.
As per the EC’s directives on ‘Restriction on Possession of Arms during Election’, immediately after the announcement of the election dates, the district magistrates are supposed to review and assess all licence holders in details so that licensed arms, in cases where it is considered essential, are impounded in order to ensure free and fair elections.
However, the general practice of the police administration of asking licence holders to deposit their guns during elections is making many law-abiding gun owners prone to danger. Generally, a licensed gun is obtained by an individual for protection against possible threats. There have been allegations from a crosssection of people that the police and district administration in various parts of the state are not abiding by the Election Commission of India’s directions to the latter.
EC has clearly stated that the arms of persons released on bail, those having criminal backgrounds and those who have been involved in rioting, especially during elections, should be impounded till completion of the election process. The EC has also directed that the district collector or a competent authority in cities should review each case and exemption may be granted in desirable cases.
In a recent case, the Bombay High Court had set aside a direction of the district magistrate for not following due procedure in confiscating the weapon. It also ruled that the district magistrate had to review individual cases before impounding arms. However, it has been a practice during elections that the district authorities or police administration issue notices irrespectively, asking all licence holders to deposit their arms with their regional police station or public armoury.
The act of the state administration not conducting detailed reviews of each case and then impounding the licensed arms is putting many individuals in danger. Cyberabad police commissioner C.V. Anand said, “All licence holders should deposit their licensed arms. Those who have real threats need to give requisitions for retaining their guns. We would then assess the danger for allowing them to retain their arms.