New Delhi: The Centre on Wednesday told the Delhi high court that it is in the process of amending the Arms Act to provide “severe punishment" for illegal licensing and possession of firearms.

The ministry of home affairs (MHA) also submitted that by way of a 2012 notification it has made it mandatory that unique identification numbers (UIN) be issued for every fresh arms licence as well as those being renewed.

Without the UIN, no arms licence shall be considered valid with effect from 1 October, 2015, the ministry said in an affidavit placed before a bench of chief justice G. Rohini and justice R,S. Endlaw.

The ministry also said it has developed and launched a national database of arms licences (NDAL) as an e-portal “to collect and monitor data of arms licences being issued in the country by states, union territories and Central government".

Through NDAL, “all information about the type of arms, name of the licence holders, addresses, period of validity will be available with MHA" and “tracing of firearms in any crime or anti-national activity will be made easier", it said.

The affidavit also said that phase one of NDAL will be completed by October 2015 and second phase will be introduced under which application for arms licences can be submitted online.

The affidavit was filed in response to a PIL by an NGO, Paardarshita Public Welfare Foundation, which has alleged that fake arms licences issued from other states, including those in North East, are being used to procure firearms in the national capital.

The ministry claimed in its affidavit that it has cancelled 352 fake licences issued by Nagaland. It also claimed that whenever any information, of fake arms licences being issued by a state, is received, central agencies are asked to give a report based on which the central government takes necessary steps to check such an illegal activity.

It also said that directions and notifications are also issued to state governments from time to time to take preventive or punitive measures with regard to issuance of fake licenses. On 8 January, the court had sought the Centre and city government’s responses on the procedure or law under which the people of national capital can keep arms issued on licence from other states.

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