Customs wants to sell confiscated weapons to its own officers

Staff already get these as loan,to be returned at time of retirement

Written by Ajmer Singh | New Delhi | Published: September 11, 2012 3:37 am

The Customs Department has moved a proposal to sell confiscated non-prohibited bore weapons in its armoury to its own officers at nominal rates,designating the same as “non-performing assets”. An inventory showed that over 800 weapons were lying in the armoury gathering rust.

If the Ministry of Finance clears the proposal,officers would be able to purchase and retain confiscated pistols/revolvers both while in service and post-retirement. A copy of the proposal is with The Indian Express.

As per existing guidelines,“there is a complete ban on sale of non-prohibited bore (NPB) weapons to departmental officers”,which can be sold “only to sitting MPs and VIPs”.

However,confiscated firearms or service weapons are “loaned’’ to officers for self-protection,subject to the condition that on retirement/superannuation,these weapons would be returned to the department.

The proposal was made in a letter written by Commissioner (Prevention) Sunil Uke,to P K Singh,Commissioner,Directorate of Logistics,on March 1,2012. “To generate and augment revenue from the seemingly non-performing asset of the department,i.e. the armoury containing a whole lot of weapons of value,it is proposed that the sale of non-prohibited bore firearms to departmental officers may be opened. For those who already own a firearm on loan basis… an option may be given… to purchase the same at the current market prices,” says the letter.

It adds that there is not much demand among MPs for the firearms. “…During a year only 4-5 weapons are bought by MPs. At this rate,it would take more than 200 years to exhaust the stock… If these are sold to the departmental officers we would generate revenue of more than Rs 5 crore.”

The communication also says that if the weapons,some of them lying in the armoury for more than 40 years,are not disposed of,these would rust.

A senior Customs official also justified the proposal on the grounds that officers who have been on sensitive assignments need protection when they retire.

The Customs Department incidentally already has more than 6,000 service weapons loaned to officers. There are known instances of these being loaned without authorisation or not being returned.

The reasoning

* MPs entitled to buy confiscated weapons,but sale limited to only 4-5 per year

* At this rate,it will take 200 years to exhaust stock

* Many weapons lying in armoury for more than 40 years

* Dept can earn Rs 5 cr from sale

* Officers need protection even after retiring

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