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HC pulls up UP govt on issue of surrendering of licensed firearms during polls

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Lucknow, Apr 1 (PTI) The Allahabad High Court has pulled up the Uttar Pradesh government after petitions alleged that it has violated the court's directions on the issue of asking people with valid firearm licences to surrender their weapons during elections.

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The court noted that it had been passing orders for two decades asking authorities not to issue a general order without specifying the reason for depositing firearms.

The Lucknow bench of the high court said state authorities have not been complying with its directions.

Noting that many petitions had been filed in the court against a general order of the state with regard to depositing of firearms, a bench of Justice Abdul Moin warned authorities that in case any more petitions are filed, it would be constrained to impose a heavy cost on authorities.

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The bench, however, clarified, "In case, the state authority has valid reasons requiring the licence holder to deposit his firearm, it would always be open for the competent authority to pass a specific order in this regard." It passed the order on a petition moved by Ravi Shanker Tiwari and others on March 22.

The petitioners have alleged that they had been asked to deposit their firearms without being given a specific reason. This is a clear violation of several orders passed by the high court which prohibits the state from issuing any general order during the election period for depositing the licensed arms, they claimed.

Considering the matter, the bench found that in the case of Mohd Arif Khan in 1994, the high court had restrained state authorities from passing a general order for depositing the licensed arms.

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It said in cases in 2000, 2002, 2021 and 2022, the court had reiterated its orders. But it has been of no avail as is apparent from the deluge of petitions being filed at present, the bench said .

The bench said the court had given specific directions to the chief secretary and the principal secretary, home, to issue directions to the authorities concerned to comply with the directions of the court in this regard. But no heed has been paid till date, it said.

The bench observed, "This indicates that the judgments which have been passed by the highest court of the state under Article 226 of the Constitution of India and are binding on all the authorities in the state are being conveniently overlooked and are not being followed." "The matters which can be sorted out at the level of local authorities are engaging the attention of this court again and again which itself reflects the lackadaisical approach of the authorities concerned," it said. When the bench was apprised that committees at district level have been formed to look into these matters, the bench said, "Even if the said committee has been formed some cogent reasons should emerge from the order of the screening committee as to why it is essential for the firearms to be deposited and there cannot be general order for deposit of firearms keeping in view of the judgments of this court." PTI COR SAB ANB ANB

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