Infostani sources- Despite obtaining approval for the Punjab Arms Rules 2023 several months ago from the “Supervisory Cabinet,” the Home Department of Punjab has failed to establish an online portal to implement the licensing system outlined in these rules. The online portal’s delay poses a threat to the legal trade and ownership of firearms, as well as the functionality of personal safety and hunting enthusiast activities. Drafting the rules with extreme secrecy and without meaningful stakeholder consultation worsened the situation.
The Supervisory Cabinet approved the new Punjab Arms Rules 2023 based on recommendations from the Punjab Interior Department some time ago. These updated rules require processing all arms dealer systems, including personal arms licenses, online. However, the online portal by the Punjab Home Department is still not operational. NADRA officials have informed the Home Department that they need to conduct all application procedures online under the new Arms Rules. They are taking substantial steps to create the portal, and this process might take months.
New Punjab Arms Rules: Online Application Challenges and Licensing Delays
As per the new rules, all applications related to arms licenses, such as new licenses, duplicate licenses, annual renewals, changes in weapon or bore, increases in the number of bullets, and registration of transfer rates on an inheritance basis, must be submitted online. Applicants must register on the portal created collaboratively by the Home Department and NADRA, paying a fee of Rs. 2340 (inclusive of GST) for NADRA processing. Additionally, the prescribed fee, depending on the nature of the application, must be paid. Notably, if an applicant submits various types of applications, they won’t need to pay separate NADRA processing fees for each application.
The new rules dictate that arms license holders must renew their licenses annually, as opposed to the previous requirement of renewal every five years, with an annual renewal fee of Rs. 5,000 and a NADRA processing fee. To apply for a new arms license online, upload various types of NOCs, and the authorized officer on the online portal will review and approve the application. Once the officer approves it. The portal will issue a demand notice, and the applicant can proceed to an authorized arms dealer to purchase arms.
Remarkably, the authorities have not issued scrutiny. As well as rare arrest certificates to all Punjab arms dealers as part of a multi-year campaign. Also, they have not received special logins and passwords. Sources reveal that relevant authorities, including the additional security tree of the judicial wing of the Interior Department. Did not take timely steps for the creation of an online portal. Consequently, applications related to arms licenses are currently at a standstill across Punjab, causing difficulties for the public.
Arms Dealers Warn of Crime Rise Amidst Delayed Licensing, Secretary Confirms Progress on Online Portal
Express interviewed arms dealers who stressed that criminals generally prefer illegal weapons over licensed ones for robberies. Criminals are aware that the presence of a weapon in a household or carried by an individual serves as a deterrent. They argue that if the government continues to regularly and easily issue arms licenses. People won’t resort to illegal arms for self-protection. Conversely, if the process of obtaining arms licenses becomes overly challenging. Individuals may feel compelled to acquire illegal arms for self-protection.
Upon contacting Express. Secretary of Interior Punjab Mian Shakeel Ahmad stated that the new arms rules have received approval from Nagar Inn. The Home Department is now preparing to collaborate with NADRA for the creation of an online portal. Having received formal approval from Nagar Inn. NADRA is currently working diligently on the online portal, and they expect to make it operational within three weeks.