Jammu and Kashmir Government Thursday accorded consent and urged India's premier investigating agency, the Central Bureau of Investigation to probe the fake arms license scam in the restive state.
It was not immediately clear if the CBI has accepted the high-profile case which was being investigated across many states.
According to an official statement, the government accorded consent to the extension of "powers and jurisdiction of the members of Delhi Special Police Establishment (DSPE) in the whole of the State of J&K, to investigate and inquire into the cases related to issuance of arms licenses."
An official in the State's home department told Greater Kashmir that the CBI's power to investigate cases is derived from the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act, 1946.
"The CBI can investigate the offences notified under this (DSPE) Act in the Union Territories and with the consent of State governments in the states," the official said.
Based on this required procedure, the state home department issued a notification on Wednesday which reads:
"In pursuance of Section-6 of the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act, 1946 (Act No: 25 of 1946), the government of J&K accords consent, to the extension of powers and jurisdiction of the members of Delhi Special Police Establishment in J&K, to investigate and inquire into the offences and attempts, abetments and conspiracies in relation to or in connection with the offences in case FIR No: 11/2018 P/S VJ under section 5 (2) PC Act Svt 2006 r/w section 3/25 Arms Act and case FIR No: 18/2018 P/S VOK under section 5 (2) PC Act Svt 2006 120-B RPC and section 3/25 Arms Act."
The development comes after State Vigilance Organisation (SVO) had already registered two separate case FIRs, one each in Kashmir and Jammu to probe the fake arms license scam. The State Vigilance Commission (SVC) was directed by the home department to conduct a thorough probe into the scam.
On June 11, Greater Kashmir reported the fake gun licenses scam under the headline "Fake gun licenses from J&K fuel weapon trade outside."
The scale of the racket is staggering. In the past six years, at least 40,000 licenses have been issued in J&K, a majority of them were found to be fake by investigators of Anti-Terror Squads (ATS) in Rajasthan and Madhaya Pradesh.
The government's consent to transfer the case to CBI also follows the State's home department direction to district magistrates of Jammu and Kashmir to revoke the arms licenses issued to individuals from July 15, 2016.
The police, army and central forces, were, however, exempted from the order.
A senior official in the SVO said the J&K government has fulfilled its legal formality by giving its consent to seek CBI probe into the arms license scam.
"Now the ball is in the CBI court. I think CBI would more likely accept the case since it has inter-state links," the official said, wishing not to be named.
"Now most probably, CBI too would issue a notification which would be their consent to take up the case."
However, Director SVO Javid Mujtaba Gilani said that since J&K government has issued a notification urging CBI to take up the case, the case they (SVO) were probing stands "automatically transferred."
Most of the 40,000 fake gun licenses were procured by people outside J&K by submitting forged letters from commanding officers of various army units in the state, an important first requirement for processing gun license applications.
Officials of the State (Gun) License Authority in J&K had issued backdated licenses to evade probes, especially an online scrutiny that started post 2008. The whole enterprise appears to have for years become a deep-rooted inter-state nexus by which gun licenses processed in J&K are used to buy weapons in other states.
Greater Kashmir had learnt from a top official source that the nexus has also spawned a growing underworld business in various Indian states involving a "well knit gang" that sustained the gun license racket.