SC seeks Centre's explanation on weapon licences to PSOs

It also wants to know about regulation of private security agencies

Taking suo motu cognisance of the killing of Ponty Chadha in a gunfight, the Supreme Court on Wednesday sought explanation from the Centre about the norms for issuing gun licences to private security persons.

The apex court also wants to know how private security agencies are being regulated.
Issuing notice to the Centre, a bench of Justices D K Jain and J S Khehar said the recent incident in which firearms were allegedly used by private security personnel is a matter of grave concern.

“A recent firing incident, widely reported in the press, resulting in the death of two persons, allegedly on account of use of firearms by some private security personnel is a matter of grave concern. It raises serious issues regarding the role of security agencies, especially the private ones,” the Bench said without naming the incident.

Controversial liquor baron Ponty Chadha and his estranged brother Hardeep were killed on November 17 in an exchange of gunfire carried out by the men of both the brothers after an argument over a property dispute at a farmhouse in south Delhi.

The apex court directed the home ministry to respond on what is the legal regulatory framework under which the private security agencies operate and what are the norms for granting weapon licences to private security personnel.

It asked the Centre to respond on whether there are guidelines governing the use of such weapons, by private security personnel and if not then whether it is necessary to frame definite parameters.

“Under these circumstances, we take suo motu cognisance of the reports, relating, inter alia, to the licensing and working of private security agencies,” the bench said.

“We issue notice to the ministry of home affairs, Union of India with a direction to file an affidavit explaining its stand on the aforenoted broad questions. The requisite affidavit shall be filed by a senior officer within two weeks from today,” the bench said and posted the matter for hearing on December 6.

The apex court said there were some questions that were of great public importance and needed to be urgently addressed.

Police custody extended

The police custody of Ponty Chadha’s two men, arrested for allegedly trespassing into a disputed farmhouse at Bijwasan in south-west Delhi, was on Wednesday extended by seven days by a court here.

Metropolitan magistrate Ruchika Singla extended the police custody of Vijay Kumar and Madan Rana till November 28 as police submitted that the two have to be confronted with four others arrested by the Mehrauli police in a similar case.

They were produced in the court after expiry of their two days’ police custody.
“Keeping in mind the seriousness of the offence and also that the investigation is still at preliminary stage, seven-day police custody is granted to the Delhi Police,” the court said.

SC asked

* What is the legal regulatory framework under which the private security agencies operate?
* What are the parameters and norms that are considered for issue of firearm and weapon licences to private security personnel?
* What are the guidelines, if any, governing the use of such firearms and weapons, by private security personnel; if not, whether it is necessary to frame definite parameters on the subject?
* What are the rights and duties of private security agencies under the law, particularly, vis-a-vis the criminal law of the land?

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