Finmin outguns CBI chief, denies him personal firearm

Written by Subhomoy Bhattacharjee | Ritu Sarin | New Delhi | Updated: May 7 2014, 10:15am hrs
The Central Bureau of Investigation may have been granted enhanced financial autonomy but the election code of conduct has denied its director a prized possession a personal firearm.

Ranjit Sinha, it is learnt, had about six months back approached the home ministry and subsequently got in touch with the finance ministry to buy a non-prohibited bore weapon, but the request was turned down as the finance ministry felt it may violate the election code. The government, it is learnt, also felt that since Sinha has Z category security cover, there was no reason to allow him a personal firearm while in service.

Sinha wanted to buy a gun under a scheme launched by the Central Board of Excise and Customs (CBEC) in 2012 to dispose some 800-odd confiscated, non-prohibited bore weapons to its officers and other police officers. The fact that some police officers may require firearms was specifically mentioned in the new guidelines.

As reported by The Indian Express in September 2012, the confiscated firearms were described by the CBEC as non-performing assets, the disposal of which could generate income for the department. Earlier, only members of Parliament and other VIPs could buy such confiscated weapons but requests for them have been dwindling, resulting in a stockpile.

Reached by The Indian Express, Sinha said he has been told his request will be examined once the code of conduct is no longer in force. I presently have a Z-plus security cover and about six months are left before I retire. I feel I will need some personal protection and safety even after retirement and that is why I applied for the short weapon, he said. I fulfill all the criteria laid down by the ministry of finance and customs and given the sensitivity of the post I occupy, personal safety is very much a concern, he added.

Sinhas predecessor AP Singh too had bought a small firearm from the customs department before he retired. He told The Indian Express that he paid R2.5 lakh for a second-hand pistol, which included the weapons market price and customs duty, after the finance ministry allowed the sale.