SHC seeks comments on feudal lords’ plea to carry firearms for security

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KARACHI: The Sindh High Court (SHC) on Tuesday sought comments from Ministry of Interior, home secretary and others on a petition of feudal lords challenging the federal government’s notification that suspended all prohibited bore arms licenses and sought permission to carry ‘automatic firearms’ for their security.

Mir Atta ur Rehman Mengal, Yawer Shahwani, Zubair Thaheem, Fahad Thaheem, Mir Naseer Mengal, Asif Ali Banbhan, Zaheer-ud-din Baber Thaheem, Sadiq Mengal and others had earlier petitioned the high court assailing the federal government’s January 26 notification that suspended licenses of their arms.

The petitioners submitted that they belonged to far-flung and tribal areas of Balochistan and Sindh and by profession were agriculturists, businessmen, politicians, as well as engaged in other professions.

They said that they are the residents of some of the riskiest and troubled areas of Pakistan, where they face serious security and law and order situation and for that purpose they had purchased firearms spending up to 2 million after completing all formalities including the biometric process, obtaining and securing personal data of applicants and background security scrutiny by National Database Regulatory Authority (NADRA).

The feudal lords added that the Ministry of Interior had suspended the licenses of their arms without intimating them which was unlawful and arbitrary. They termed this act of the government a sheer violation of the West Pakistan Arms Ordinance, 1965.

The counsel for the petitioners argued that after the 18th Amendment to the Constitution of Pakistan, the subject of ‘arms, fire-arms and ammunition’ was in entry 17 of the Concurrent Legislative List and did not fall in the federal government’s jurisdiction.

It was further argued that now the subject has been transferred to the provincial government, maintaining that the impugned notification of the federal government cannot extend to the provinces and was not applicable to the petitioners as they belonged to Balchoistan and Sindh.

After the preliminary hearing, the bench issued notices to the respondents including Ministry of Interior, Sindh Home Ministry as well as the law officers of the federal and the provincial governments, directing them to submit their respective replies by February 19.

“In the meanwhile, no coercive action should be taken against the petitioners pursuant to impugned notification,” the court ruled.