Somnath Iyer, J.
1. On May 22, 1963the petitioner was asked by the District Magistrate, Belgaum, to show cause why the two licences authorising possession of a gun and a revolver, should not be cancelled. It was stated in that notice that the petitioner was secretly instigating certain mill workers not to make contributions to the National Defence Fund and that he intimidated certain workers with his pistol. It was also said that he indulged in criticism of Government activities in the sphere of war efforts.
2. At one stage from the order made by the Dist. Magistrate cancelling the licences there was an appeal and that appeal ended in an order of remand made by the Divisional Commissioner by which the District Magistrate was directed to dispose of the matter afresh after making necessary enquiries, after affording the petitioner an opportunity to make his representations. Eventually an order was made by the District Magistrate cancelling the licences. He was of the view that since the petitioner was admittedly convicted of an offence of defalcation, and that the Superintendent of Police had reported after an enquiry that the petitioner was not a fit person to be in possession of the weapons, he (the District Magistrate) himself was satisfied from the enquiries made that the petitioner was not a fit person to possess the arms.
3. From this order, the petitioner again appealed to the Divisional Commissioner who was of the view that the appeal could not succeed. The Divisional Commissioner who observed that in matters in which a licensing authority exercised discretion under the Arms Act, the exercise of that discretion could not be lightly disturbed. Discussing the question whether thepetitioner's licences had been properly cancelled, the Divisional Commissioner observed thus:
'I find from the papers that the District Magistrate has made sufficient enquiries. The Superintendent of Police who has made detailed enquiries in the matter, has reported that the appellant is not a fit person to be entrusted with the fire arms in his possession. Some of the points made by the Superintendent of Police in his report are obviously of such a nature as could not be disclosed in the public interest and which could not also be catalogued in detail in the order of the District Magistrate. The reasons which have now been recorded by me appear to me to be sufficient to meet the requirements of Section 17(3)(a) of the Arms Act 1959.'
4. It seems to us that there has been no proper disposal of the appeal by the Divisional Commissioner. Mr. Government Pleader has made available to us the police report upon which the District Magistrate depended, and it is seen from that police report that on the enquiries instituted by the Superintendent of Police it emerged that the petitioner was secretly instigating the mill workers not to contribute to the National Defence Fund and that he advised the workers not to make any such contribution unless the management contributed a day's profit to the National Defence Fund. It was next stated in that report that the petitioner was indulging in making a criticism of the action of Government in the sphere of war effort. After referring to these two matters, the Superintendent of Police wound up with a statement that the petitioner was not therefore a fit person to be in possession of the fire arms of which he was in possession.
5. It is difficult in understand why the Divisional Commissioner thought that what was stated in the police report could not be disclosed in public interest. These very matters to which the Police Superintendent referred in the course of his report were referred to by the District Magistrate in the show cause notice. In addition, there was another charge against the petitioner that he was brandishing his pistol against the workers who did not listen to his advice.
6. It is clear from Section 17 of the Arms Act, 1959 that a license can he revoked on at least five grounds. The District Magistrate made his order on a ground specified in Section 17(3)(a). That clause mentions more than one ground on which a licensing authority may revoke the licence, and one of them is that the holder of the licence is, in the opinion of the licencing authority, unfit for a licence under the Act. The District Magistrate thought that he was so unfit, and as required by Sub-section (5) of Section 17 he recorded his reasons for reaching the conclusion that the petitioner was not a fit person for a licence under the Act.
7. Sub-section (5), among other matters, says that an order by which the licencing authority revokes a licence shall be supported by reasons which the licencing authority should record in writing. It directs that a brief statement of those reasons shall be furnished to the holder of the licence unless the licencing authority is of the opinion that it will not be in the public interest to furnish such statement.
8. It is obvious that the District Magistrate did not think that it was against public interest to furnish the petitioner with a statement of the reasons recorded by the licencing authority for revocation of the licence. He could not have reached any such conclusion since the reasons on which the licencing authority founded his order were set out in the notice by which the petitioner was asked to show cause against revocation.
9. In that situation and particularly having regard to the contents of the report of the Superintendent of Police, it is not easy to understand why the Divisional Commissioner thought that the disclosure of the reasons on which the petitioner's licenses could be revoked was not in the public interest. The Licensing authority had disclosed the reasons and he made it clear that he depended upon the police report for reaching the conclusion that the licences should be revoked. As already observed, the police report contained nothing which was not in the show cause notice.
10. So it became the duty of the Divisional Commissioner to discuss the sufficiency of the reasons and to record a finding whether those reasons in his opinion justify the revocation. In an appeal such as the one provided by Section 18 of the Arms Act, the appellate authority should in a case like the one before us, make an adequate discussion of the material on which the licencing authority revoked the licences. The Divisional Commissioner should have discussed the contents of the police report in which there was nothing which had not been disclosed to the petitioner. He should have after such discussion reached the conclusion whether on the materials contained in the police report and upon the materials on which the District Magistrate depended, the revocation was or was not justified. It could not be said that the disposal of the appeal by the Divisional Commissioner, who stated that he would not discuss the ground on which the revocation in his opinion was justified, was in accordance with law.
11. We therefore set aside the order made by the Divisional Commissioner and we remand the appeal to the Divisional Commissioner for a fresh disposal according to law.
12. No costs.
13. Petition allowed and case remanded.