The Explosives Act of 1884 regulates the possession, manufacture, use, sale, transport, export, and import of explosives in India.
According to the Act, the term ‘explosives’ includes gunpowder, various acids, harmful metals, coloured fires or any substances in solid, liquid or gaseous form and used to manufacture explosives or cause a possible explosion. The term also includes detonators, cartridges, ammunition, rockets, fuses, fog signals, or fireworks. This definition indicates the intention of the legislature to prohibit items that could either cause an explosion or destruction on its own or in any other combination.
The Explosive Act lays down the provisions comprehensively and empowers the Central Government to regulate all matters connected to it or incidental to using explosives.
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Power of Central Government Under the Explosives Act
By Section 5 of the Explosives Act, the Central Government is empowered to make rules to prohibit or regulate the manufacture, use, sale, and possession of explosives or any explosives class items. These rules can be related to granting of a licence, fees to be charged for licensing, manner of licence application, period of force of such licences, and the exemption to any person or class of persons, whether absolute or subject to conditions.
Section 6 of the Act empowers the Central Government to prohibit the manufacture, import, or possess hazardous explosives. This provision states that the Customs Act, 1962, shall also affect the import of the dangerous explosives concerning notification issued in this regard.
Under Section 7, the Central Government has the following powers:
- Make rules if there is a reason to believe there is a contravention of the provisions of the Act.
- Power to inspect
- Carry out search and seizure of licenced premises manufacturing explosives and taking samples.
The Central Government makes rules for the detention, removal, seizure, and destruction of such goods or ingredients found in search and inspection processes. However, the searches carried out by the authorised officers under this Act are governed by the Criminal Procedure Code of 1973 provisions.
Section 9(4) of the Act empowers the Central Government to make rules:
- To regulate the procedure of inquiries,
- To enable the Chief Controller of Explosives to be present at such inquiries,
- To permit the Chief Controller or his representative to carry out witness examination, and
- To provide the reports of such proceedings where the Chief Controller was not physically present and prescribe how notices under Section 8 shall be given.
Furthermore, Section 14(2) of the Act empowers the Central Government to exempt, either absolutely or subject to conditions, any person or class of persons and any explosives, as it may deem fit by way of notification of exemption in the Official Gazette.
Section 17A empowers the Central Government to delegate its functions through notification in the Official Gazette. The delegation can be made to an officer or any State Government to carry out the functions exercised by the Central Government under the various provisions stated previously.
Grant, Refusal, and Suspension of Licences
The provisions mentioned under the Section 6B of the Act include granting licences. If a licence application is made under Section 5, after making the necessary inquiry, the licensing authority may consent or refuse the licence by an order in writing per the provisions of the Act.
Before granting the licence, the licensing authority must ensure that the licence manufacture is done only through himself and his employees, possessing technical knowledge and experience in such a manufacturer.
Section 6C of the Act governs the refusal of granting a licence. The licensing authority is empowered to refuse the licence grant if it is sought for any of the following:
- Prohibited explosives,
- For a reason prohibited by the Explosives Act or any other law in force, and
- If a person of unsound mind seeks it or is unfit for any other reason to hold such licence under the Act.
The licensing authority shall also refuse such a grant if it deems it necessary for public peace and security. Such a refusal of licence grant must be in writing with reasons.
Section 6E of the Act outlines the provisions for variation, suspension, and revocation of licences. The licensing authority is empowered to suspend or revoke the licence in the following circumstances:
- It is satisfied that the licence holder is prohibited, by this or any other law in force, to manufacture, sell, transport, possess, import or export any explosives. The licence can also be suspended or revoked if the authority is satisfied that such licence holder is of unsound mind or unfit to hold a licence under this Act for any other reason or
- It deems necessary that the revocation or suspension is essential for public peace or security or
- If the licence was obtained by providing wrong information or by suppressing material facts either by himself or any other person acting on behalf of such person or
- If it finds that the conditions under which the licence was granted are contravened or
- If the holder has failed to comply with the notice under Section 6E(1).
Accidents Under the Explosives Act
Section 8-9A of the Explosives Act lays down the provisions of notice and inquiry into the accidents under the Act.
- Section 8 obligates the owner of the place or person in charge to notify the Chief Controller of explosives and the nearest police station about the accident, the loss of human life or personal injury.
- Sections 9 and 9A outline the procedure for inquiry into accidents and serious accidents, respectively.
Punishments Under the Explosives Act
Section 9B of the Act specifies the punishments in case of an infringement of any of the provisions of the Act. The punishment includes the following:
- For possession, use, sale or transport of explosives, the punishment will include imprisonment of up to 2 years or a fine which may extend to Rs. 3000 or both
- For the manufacture, export or import of explosives, the punishment includes imprisonment of up to 3 years or a fine up to Rs. 5000 or both.
- If a person imports or possesses in contravention of a notification issued in terms of Section 6 of the Act, the punishment will include a fine of up to Rs. 5000 or imprisonment of up to 3 years or both.
Abetment, Attempts, and Punishment
Under Section 12 of the Act, any person who abets the commission of an offence under the Act or attempts to carry out any act that constitutes an offence hereunder shall be treated as if he had committed such offence himself.
Analysis of the various provisions of the Explosives Act reveal the legislature intended to regulate the manufacture, sale, transportation, possession and export or import of explosives in the most stringent manner because of the dangerous nature of explosives and the threat explosives bring to human life and property.
Furthermore, the powers designated to the Central Government and the licensing authority ensure no scope for the misuse and mishandling of explosives. The fact that the Explosives Act prohibits the grant of licence, or the power to revoke or licence suspension, also exhibits that the manner of licence grant is such that it will not pose any danger to public peace and public security.
FAQs on the Explosives Act
What is the aim of the Explosives Act?
The Explosives Act aims to regulate the matters relating to the manufacture, possession, sale, or use of explosives material in India.
What are the powers of the Central Government under the Act?
The Central Government has the authority to make rules under Sections 5, 6, 7, 9A, 14(2), and 17A of the Act on various matters relating to using explosives and incidental to it.
What will happen if any company contravenes the provisions of the Explosives Act?
Section 9C of the Explosives Act is a specific provision that deals with the offences carried out by a Company and lays down how the person responsible for such an offence by the company shall be determined.
As per the Explosives Act, what will happen in case of an accident in a licensed premises?
Sections 8-9B deal with the provisions relating to the notice of accidents and the inquiry into such or serious accidents, as the case may be.
What is the next step for the applicant if the application for a licence grant is rejected?
Under Section 6F, any person who is aggrieved by the order of the licence authority may file an appeal, in writing and by stating the reasons in brief, to the appellate authority in a period specified by the provisions under the Limitation Act of 1963.