This article is written by R. Malar Mitha of 10th Semester of the School of Law, Sathyabama Institution of Science and Technology, Chennai, an intern under Legal Vidhiya
In this article, we are going to see about The Arms Act, 1959. The government imposes laws and regulations to keep the peace in the nation. The state is defended against all foreign and internal dangers by the defence and security agencies. These organisations are armed with firearms and have the authority to uphold the state’s security and peace by using both appropriate and occasionally excessive force, depending on the circumstances. Only the armed forces and law enforcement authorities of India are permitted to use firearms and ammunition. However, there are tight and restricted rules governing residents’ ability to possess and use firearms. The Arms Act, 1959 is the key component of gun control law in the nation. It bans the import, export, transportation, manufacturing, selling, and ownership of weapons and ammunition without a licence. The British first imposed gun control laws in India in an effort to prohibit Indians from possessing firearms and to put an end to any sort of uprising or mutiny against their rulers. Overall, the Arms Act is thoroughly examined in this research work.
Keywords: The Arms Act, 1959, Sections, History, Salient features, Amendments, Types of Arms, Licenses, Powers of the Governments, Non-Application of Arms act, USA Law, Criticisms, Suggestions, Case Laws.
In a civil society, the government and the state are answerable to the people; as such, they must effectively manage the nation, contribute to its advancement, and provide its members with the necessities of life. Law and order must be upheld, crimes must be avoided, and residents must be shielded from both external and internal attack. The State uses its armed forces, like the army, and law enforcement organisations, like the police, to defend its population. The state has given these defence troops and agencies permission to use lethal force and weapons as needed to defend the state and further its objectives. In the course of their numerous missions, they employ such force and utilise weapons to stay one step ahead of the opponent tactically, offensively, and strategically.
Guns, firearms, armaments, ammunition, and other defence hardware are all considered weapons. These are the tools and things that are used to cause injury, pain, and damage. These tools and weapons are mostly employed in defence, law enforcement, hunting, and other related contexts as well as in situations involving conflict, warfare, and criminal activity. Since the State is in charge of upholding defence and law and order, it is typically forbidden for citizens to own or use firearms. Almost every nation has laws and regulations that either forbid or control the ownership, use, transfer, manufacturing, possession, and manufacturing of firearms by its citizens. The majority of nations have tight gun laws and policies, which place strict restrictions on the acquisition and use of firearms, arms, and other weapons. However, certain nations like the United States of America, Pakistan, Nigeria, Senegal, etc. have restrictive gun laws and a vibrant “gun culture.”
THE ARMS ACT, 1959
The Indian Parliament passed the Arms Act, 1959 specifically to modify and combine the many laws pertaining to weapons and ammunition. This was an urgent need to stop the threat posed by those in possession of illicit weapons who would use them to commit crimes and inflict damage on society. As stated clearly in Chapter II of the same Act, its goal is to be as comprehensive as possible to cover every aspect of the purchase, possession, manufacturing, sale, import, export, and transportation of weapons and ammunition. Likewise, Chapter IV of the Act describes the methods and powers that the government and other authorities may employ to control the use and ownership of firearms and ammunition in India. These include provisions for detention orders, search warrants, arrests, and seizures. Based on information provided by the Small Arms Survey in its report on Civilian Firearms Holdings, 2017, Indian civilians are estimated to hold 7,11,01,000 firearms, or roughly one out of every five out of 100. In addition, there were 97,00,000 registered firearms in India in 2017 compared to an astounding 6,14,01,000 unregistered firearms in the same year. The main piece of legislation controlling gun ownership in India is the Arms Act, 1959. An additional amendment to The Arms Act, 1959 was passed in December 2019 with the passage of The Arms (Amendment) Act, 2019.
Section 2(b): “Ammunition” is defined as “objects used to shoot firearms.” Examples of ammunition include: charges for firearms and their accessories; fuses or friction tubes; manufacturing machinery or parts of ammunition; items used in torpedo service and submarine mining; articles used to contain any explosives; fulminating or fissionable material; any noxious liquid or gas; and any other items that can or cannot be used with firearms.
Section 2(c): “Arms” They are meant to be employed as either defensive or offensive armaments. Firearms, any other dangerous or sharp weaponry, as well as manufacturing equipment and spare components for weapons, are all included. However, it excludes the following: Weapons that are only fit for play or cannot be made into functional weapons, or articles made exclusively for home or agricultural use, such as walking sticks and lathi.
Section 2(e): “Firearms” It refers to weapons intended to launch a projectile or projectiles using an explosion or any other kind of energy. It involves: Artillery, hand grenades, riot pistols, or other weapons that shoot poisonous gas or liquid, Gun accessories designed to reduce the flash or noise produced by certain weapons, manufacturing equipment or gun parts, platforms, carriers, and equipment for moving guns.
Section 2(h): Prohibited ammunition.
Section 2(i): Prohibited arms.
Section 3: A licence to purchase and keep weapons and ammunition.
Section 5: Licence for manufacture and sale of arms.
Section 10: Licence for import and export of arms.
Section 13: Grant of licences
Section 15: Duration of licence.
Section 17: Suspension of licence.
Section 18: Appeals.
Section 19-24B: Power and production of licence, etc.
Section 25-33: Offences And Penalties.
HISTORY OF THE ACT
During British colonial authority, the arms legislation was first introduced in India in 1878. Indians intimidated the British, who saw armed Indians as a danger to their authority in this nation. In order to rule out the prospect of another great rebellion, the British government enacted the Indian Arms Act in 1878. The act was passed in order to control civilians’ access to, manufacturing, selling, and usage of weapons as well as to stop them from being used illegally. The act placed stringent limitations on the purchase and possession of firearms, and those who disobeyed the law faced harsh consequences like fines and jail time. In colonial India, there were not many gun control regulations in place prior to the Indian Rebellion of 1857.
The Sepoy Mutiny of 1857 was the first known instance of Indians using guns in a way that alarmed the British, who were in control at the time. This unpleasant incident occurred during the colonial era when the British gave the Indian sepoys access to the dreaded Enfield gun. But the sepoys had to bite off the lubricated cartridges which were made of a mixture of cow and pig lard in order to operate the firearm. This was a ploy to offend the religious feelings of Hindus and Muslims, respectively, and it led to widespread unrest and violence among the Indian sepoys. The sepoys used this as fuel to band together and launch a bloody insurrection against the British authorities.
This measure has been strongly opposed by national leaders like Mahatma Gandhi. “Among the numerous atrocities of British rule in India, history will regard the act of depriving an entire nation of arms as the blackest,” he declared.
The Indian Arms Act of 1878 was a result of this. This Act restricted the possession of firearms to Indians who were in possession of valid licences or prior authorization. During the administration of Lord Lytton, the Viceroy of India at the time, this Act was enforced, further regulating the production, sale, possession, and carrying of guns. Following independence, the Indian government enacted the Indian Arms Act, 1959, which acknowledged that some law-abiding persons were required to own and carry firearms for self-defence, sporting events, and crop protection.
OBJECTIVES OF THE ACT
The goal of the Indian Arms Act of 1959 was national disarmament. The 1878 act designating “swords, daggers, spears, spearheads, bows, and arrows” as “arms” has remained unmodified in the statute book even after independence. Law-abiding citizens still find it challenging to own firearms for self-defence due to the strict regulations imposed by the Arms Act, while terrorist organisations, criminal groups, and other anti-social or anti-national elements use bombs, hand grenades, Bren guns, Sten guns, and other civilian weapons in addition to civilian weapons. Military style revolvers and 303-bore service rifles, for committing horrible crimes against the State and society. All of the state governments sent in opinions that included not only their own but also the opinions of several state officials, judges, collectors, bar associations, senior police officers, and local bodies. The draught of this bill was done in light of those opinions.
The purpose of this bill is to:
- exclude items such as knives, spears, bows, and arrows from the definition of “arms”.
- to categorise weapons, including rifles, and other forbidden items to make sure
- That citizen, especially the anti-social groups, do not have access to military-style deadly weaponry.
- That, barring circumstances or inclinations that prevent them from having the privilege, all citizens are permitted to possess firearms for self-defence.
- That permits make it easier to obtain firearms needed for training and regular civilian use.
- To balance citizens’ rights with the need to uphold law and order and prevent fifth-column operations within the nation.
- To acknowledge that in times of national emergency, the State has the right to call upon the services of any citizens. If the government can effectively deploy and employ them, licence holders and permission holders for weapons, shikaris, target shooters, and riflemen in general (as long as they are within the right age ranges) will be extremely helpful to the nation during times of need.
This Act aims “to consolidate and amend the law relating to arms and ammunitions,” according to the preamble. The Act aims to control and limit the illegal trade in weapons and ammunition.
It outlines the process for acquiring permits for specific types of weapons or ammunition and places restrictions on dangerous weapons to prevent public access. This Act covers all of India. Furthermore, this Act has established the people’s right to keep and carry arms as a legitimate one. It was understood that they must be permitted to own and use specific weapons and ammunition in particular cases, such as self-defence or when there is a grave threat to life or property.
AMENDMENTS OF THE ACT
- Amendment Bill 49 of 1953: On November 27, 1953, was presented in the Lok Sabha with the aim of directing Parliament’s attention towards this crucial topic. On March 26, 1954, it was brought up in the House and sent out to get public input.
- Amendment Act 55 of 1971: An Outline of Goals and Motives. Generally speaking, farmers employ muzzle-loading guns to safeguard their crops from animals. According to the current legislation, a permit must be obtained even for muzzle-loading guns, and farmers must spend a lot of time, money, and effort obtaining one. Therefore, it is preferable that muzzle-loading guns intended for agricultural usage be free from licencing requirements so that farmers can easily obtain them to defend their crops and avoid wasting time and money.
- Amendment Act 25 of 1983: About 64 years ago the Arms Act, 1959 (54 of 1959) was passed. The number of crimes involving the use of weapons has increased recently. In addition to illegal weapons, there is a growing trend in the use of legal weapons in criminal activity. Therefore, the major goals of the current Bill are to prevent anti-social elements from obtaining firearms and to increase oversight when granting licences for the sale of firearms. The transfer of deadly weapons, as well as for severe penalties for Act violations.
- Amendment Act 39 of 1985: The Arms Act, 1959, establishes penalties for violating the Act’s provisions and governs the purchase, possession, and transportation of weapons and ammunition. There has been a growth in the use of firearms in violent crimes, primarily by terrorists and other unapproved parties. Particularly in “disturbed areas” like Punjab and Chandigarh, these kinds of activities have been observed. The penalties that are already in place don’t serve as a powerful deterrence. As a result, there is a greater need to establish harsher penalties in order to stop illegal access to weapons and ammunition and to stop the growing threat of terrorism. As a result, it is suggested that carrying a weapon illegally in a disturbed area and breaking subsection (1-B) of section 25 of the Act would both result in extremely severe penalties. Additionally, it is suggested that additional infractions of the aforementioned sub-section (1-B) result in harsher penalties.
- Amendment Act 42 of 1988: In light of the rise in terrorist and anti-national actions, the Arms Act of 1959 was revised to provide for harsher penalties for crimes under the Act. But it was said that anti-national and terrorist groups, especially in Punjab, had recently obtained automatic weapons, including different kinds of machine guns, rockets, and rocket launchers. The Act did not distinguish between offences involving ordinary arms and the more lethal prohibited arms and prohibited ammunition, even though the definitions of the terms “arms,” “ammunition,” “prohibited arms,” and “prohibited ammunition” included in the Act are sufficient to cover the aforementioned lethal weapons in the matter of punishments for offences relating to arms. Furthermore, the Act did not establish any consequences for the actual use of illegal weapons, even while it did provide for the punishment of those who possess weapons and ammunition with the intent to use them for any criminal purpose. In order to effectively address the threats posed by terrorist and anti-national elements, it was suggested to alter the Act to include provisions for deterrent punishment for offences involving restricted weapons and ammunition as well as the illegal use of firearms and ammunition. As a result, on May 27, 1988, the President signed the Arms (Amendment) Ordinance, 1988.
AMENDMENT ACT 2019
Recently, the Arms (Amendment) Bill, 2019 was presented to the Lok Sabha. The Arms Act, 1959, which governs the possession of weapons in India, is amended by the Bill. According to the Act, weapons include swords, anti-aircraft missiles, and firearms. Law enforcement agencies have reported an increasing correlation between illicit gun ownership and criminal activity, according to the Bill’s Statement of Objects and Reasons. In this regard, the Bill aims to lower the maximum quantity of firearms that an individual is permitted to own while also stiffening the penalties for certain Act violations. Additionally, the Bill creates additional crime classifications. Three licenced firearms are permitted per the Arms Act of 1959. This would be reduced to one handgun per person under the Bill. This would also cover any weapons that might have been inherited or passed down as family heirlooms. After the Bill is passed, excess firearms must be turned in to the closest police station or authorised arms dealer within a year.
The Bill increases a license’s term from three to five years. The Bill includes a few new news crimes. e.g., the Bill makes it illegal to take a handgun from law enforcement or the armed services by force. If this is done, the penalty consists of a fine and a term of imprisonment ranging from 10 years to life. The Bill also criminalises careless gun use, such as celebratory gunfire at weddings or religious ceremonies that jeopardises people’s lives or personal safety. In this instance, a fine of up to one lakh rupees, two years in prison, or both are the suggested penalties. Also, the Bill defines “illicit trafficking.” It is described as the trading, purchasing, or selling of weapons or ammunition into or out of India, regardless of whether the weapons are marked legally or not. The Bill establishes fines and terms of imprisonment ranging from 10 years to life for illicit trafficking.
Furthermore, the Bill defines “organised crime.” “Organised crime” is described as an individual engaging in ongoing illegal conduct, either on their own behalf or as a member of a syndicate, with the intention of obtaining financial or other advantages by utilising illegal tactics, such as coercion or violence. When two or more people commit organised crime, they are referred to as an organised criminal syndicate.
TYPES OF ARMS
Two separate classifications of firearms have been established by the Arms Act of 1959:
1. Prohibited Bore (PB).
2. Non-Prohibited Bore (NPB).
The term “bore” refers to the internal chamber of a gun or other firearm. The size of a bullet is known as its calibre, and it is based on its breadth. It might be stated that the bullet’s calibre is marginally higher than the bore calibre for someone who is familiar with how a firearm operates. However, for simplicity’s sake, a regular person may use those interchangeably.
Non-Prohibited Bore weapons include pistols with calibres of.35,.32,.22, and.380. The process outlined in Chapters II and III of The Arms Act, 1959 must be followed in order to get a licence for the possession of a non-prohibited bore firearm. Prohibited Bore firearms include semi-automatic and fully automatic weapons, as well as handguns and pistols chambered in.38,.455, and.303, as well as 9 mm handguns. Only members of the armed forces and family heirlooms were permitted to own Prohibited Bore category weapons prior to the 2008 Mumbai Attacks. Firearms in the Prohibited Bore category include semi-automatic and fully automatic firearms, handguns, and rifles chambered in 0.303 and 9mm.
PROCEDURE FOR LICENSING GUN AND FIREARM
In India, a person must apply for an arms licence from the district magistrate’s office in order to lawfully own a firearm. The application needs to be submitted via the official form and include all required supporting documentation, including proof of address, age, and identification. For an individual to apply for a licence, they must be at least 21 years old. The local police station runs a background check on applicants upon application to make sure they are mentally and physically capable of handling firearms and have no criminal history. Examined are the applicant’s justifications for requiring a handgun. Licences are typically given out for sports, crop protection, and self-defence. In the event that the application is accepted, the candidate will have to complete firearms instruction at an accredited rifle club.
The Arms Act of 1959, Section 13, defines the process for obtaining a firearms licence in India. The applicant must submit an application from A-1 to the licencing body and pay any applicable fees.
Required documents for the application:
- passport-sized pictures
- Provide evidence.
- Proof of birthdate
- verification of identity
- health certification
- Any additional document that the authorities require
Indian nationals may obtain licences for non-prohibited barrel weapons under the 1959 Arms Act.
Anyone who is able to affirm the following status is eligible to receive it:
- An individual can apply for a licence to defend himself if they feel threatened or are rich.
- Additionally issued for general security for banks and other establishments, encompassing guards for politicians and VIPs as well as gunmen.
- Agriculturalists who wish to safeguard their crops from boars must also obtain a gun’s licence.
- Licences to carry firearms may also be granted for sporting activities like shooting.
- A non-resident Indian (NRI) who has held a firearm licence in a foreign country for more than two years may also apply for it in India.
- Under reasonable circumstances, foreign nationals may also be permitted to stay in India for a maximum of six months.
- In addition to not being of “unsound mind” or endangering public safety or peace, the candidate cannot have been found guilty of any violent or immoral acts five years prior to applying.
- After receiving an application, the Home Ministry, the licencing body, asks the officer in charge of the nearest police station to provide a report on the applicant after a thorough screening process within a predetermined time frame.
- The Act prohibits anyone who is under bail or mentally incompetent from acquiring one of these licences.
- A gun’s licence can be obtained without meeting any requirements regarding the property.
POWERS OF CENTRAL GOVERNMENT AND STATE GOVERNMENT
Requests for the issuing of weapons licences are handled by the State Government/DM in question in accordance with the police authorities’ report, which was produced after a thorough examination of the applicant’s background and family history. The government can forbid the distribution of firearms and the possession of arms in designated “disturbed areas.” In an effort to combat the “gun culture” in the state, the Punjab state administration has revoked 813 firearms licences. The state has already implemented a number of comparable measures, most recently suspending licences.
The Central Government may do the following by publishing a notice in the Official Gazette:
- Ban specific weapons and ammunition from being imported or exported (Section 11).
- Limit the movement of weapons or ammunition across India or inside its borders (Section 12).
- Cancel, suspend, or order the licencing body to cancel, suspend, or revoke any licence granted under this Act (Section 17(9)).
- Exempt or exclude any individual or group of individuals from the application of any or all of this Act’s requirements with regard to particular weapons or ammunition (Section 41).
- Organise a gun’s inventory count in any region and provide any officer the authority to carry out this count (Section 42).
- Assign its authority or responsibilities to any official who reports to the federal government or a state government (Section 43).
- Establish guidelines for executing any tasks mandated by this Act (Section 44).
IN WHICH CASES THE ACT WILL NOT APPLY
The following situations would result in this Act’s provisions not being applicable:
- If such weapons or ammo are aboard a seagoing ship or aircraft and are a regular component of their armament or equipment.
- Acquiring, holding, producing, repairing, selling, transferring, importing, exporting, transporting, etc. of weapons or ammunition:
- If it is carried out as directed by the Central Government.
- If a public servant performs it while carrying out his duties.
- If carried out by:
- A participant in the National Cadet Corps as defined by the 1948 National Cadet Corps Act.
- A member of the Territorial Army who is enrolled or an officer as defined under the 1948 Territorial Army Act.
- A person who enlists in another force in compliance with a Central Act or after a Central Government announcement published in the Official Gazette.
- An antiquarian-value obsolete weapon that needs to be repaired in order to be used as a firearm.
- Purchasing, holding, and transporting small pieces of ammunition or weapons that aren’t meant to be combined with complementing parts.
ARMS LAW IN INDIA VS ARMS LAW IN USA
|In India, owning firearms is a privilege rather than a right. India has serious and severe rules regarding guns. The procedure of obtaining or owning a gun has been laid out and complicated. In India, firearms are governed under the Indian Arms Act of 1959 and the Arms Rules of 1962. India ranked 110th in the world in terms of civilian firearm ownership, with only 4.2 guns per 100 citizens, according to the Small Arms Survey.
|In the USA, owning firearms is protected by the constitution. Compared to India, the USA has less stringent legislation. Possession of a gun is easily acquired, and limits are only placed under specific circumstances. State departments and the Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives are in charge of enforcing firearms laws. Local governments also have their own rules pertaining to weapons. With 88.8 firearms per 100 residents, the USA came in first.
One of the most powerful and industrialised nations in the world, the United States of America, has some of the latest and most lenient gun laws and regulations worldwide. “Gun culture” is acknowledged in the US as a component of its history, customs, and way of life. The United States has a rich and lengthy history with gun culture. The American War of Independence (1775–1783) is when it first appeared. Back then, Americans possessed firearms for hunting, sport, and self-defence. Owing to sporadic battles between the revolutionaries and the colonial authorities, the common people were frequently called upon to take up guns and fight whenever necessary. Frequently, volunteers joined civil militias to fight for independence. Back then, having a gun was not only considered fashionable or cultural, but also an essential tool for ensuring one’s survival and personal safety.
On July 4, 1776, the United States of America declared their independence from Great Britain. The United States Constitution was adopted on September 17, 1787. The Second Amendment was ratified on December 15, 1791, and it became a component of the Bill of Rights. The Second Amendment acknowledges and defends the right of individuals to keep and bear weapons as a basic freedom.
CRITICISM OF THE ACT
India’s Arms Act was passed to control who can own, purchase, and use firearms there. Many reasons, including the necessity to uphold peace and order and stop the improper use of weapons in criminal activity, led to the introduction of the Act. Firearms became more widely available in India during the British colonial era, and civilians employed them for self-defence and hunting, among other uses. But since guns were being used in crimes like robberies and murder, this also resulted in a rise in firearm misuse. The British government began to take serious notice of the improper use of weapons, and in 1878 they passed the Indian Arms Act. The Act placed stringent limitations on the purchase and use of firearms, and breaking the Act had harsh consequences, such as fines and jail time. The Arms Act remained in effect in India following the country’s independence in 1947. To address new security concerns and guarantee the appropriate use of weapons, the Act has, nevertheless, undergone a number of revisions throughout time. Preventing the use of weapons in terrorist acts was one of the main motivations behind India’s Arms Act. The Indian government has been extremely concerned about terrorist operations, and weapons have frequently been utilised in terrorist assaults.
The purpose of the Act is to keep firearms out of the hands of civilians and to make sure that only law-abiding, responsible people with the required training and licences can handle firearms. Controlling the proliferation of firearms among criminal elements is another goal of the Act. Gun abuse has been a major issue in India, where weapons are frequently utilised in violent crimes such robberies, kidnappings, and murders. The Act seeks to guarantee that firearms are only used for legitimate purposes and to stop criminals from obtaining and possessing firearms. The Act has drawn flak for violating the freedom to keep and bear arms and for being overly restrictive. Critics contend that although criminals continue to obtain firearms illegally, the Act makes it more difficult for law abiding persons to obtain licences. Due to the fact that terrorists frequently employ illicit weapons that are exempt from Act regulations, the Act has also been accused of being inefficient in stopping terrorist activities.
- In spite of India’s stringent regulations prohibiting the unlawful acquisition of firearms, which may incite violence, instances of mass shootings persist throughout the nation as a result of the accessibility of weapons from unapproved sources. To safeguard internal and national security, law enforcement agencies must function efficiently and take appropriate action.
- Gun smuggling across the nation needs to be identified and stopped, especially when it occurs across porous borders.
- Experts have noted that a serious lack of institutional safeguards for gun purchases has resulted in mass murders.
- It has been suggested that the US government provide those in extreme need firearms based on their needs.
- The Government of India, through the Ministry of Home Affairs, has made the decision to uphold an official registry of all arms licence holders, past and present, by creating a National Database of Arms Licences. With the use of a Unique Identification Number, these owners will be located. This might be a major step in averting the violent aftermath of mass shooting incidents if it is executed well and promptly.
- These horrifying crimes also have a social component, which brings attention to the lone gunman’s mental state. This needs to act as a warning to the governments of the US and other nations, encouraging mental health promotion as a top priority for the welfare of their citizens.
- India shouldn’t acknowledge the right to keep and bear arms as a basic freedom. Gun ownership ought to be a privilege that the government grants to law-abiding citizens rather than a right.
- Gun ownership, possession, manufacturing, sale, transportation, and other permits and licences ought to be awarded only after thorough examination, stringent background checks, and fulfilment of necessary requirements.
- “Gun-free zones” should be established by the government, wherein no one is permitted to own a gun. Generally speaking, residential neighbourhoods and crowded city centres should be gun-free zones. Furthermore, the government need to allow gun licences in places designated as “hostile zones,” where violent incidents and confrontations are occasionally reported.
- To stop and lessen gun-related offences, harsher penalties and punishments for violating the Arms Act should be implemented, including heavy fines and lengthier terms.
INDIAN CASE LAWS
- State of Madhya Pradesh VS Ayub Khan:
A country-made barrel gun with two rounds of ammunition and fifty grammes of unlicensed explosives was discovered with the accused. He was accused under the 1959 Arms Act, Section 25(1)(a). Despite the fact that the accused was a first-time offender and had spent a significant amount of time in detention, the c ourt issued the order. The culprit, who was given the death penalty, was given a year of hard prison and a fine of Rs. 100. Subsequently, the accused filed an appeal of criminal revision before the Madhya Pradesh High Court. The state of Madhya Pradesh then approached the Indian Supreme Court, which ruled that the lower court erred gravely in failing to impose the minimum sentence specified by the statute. The honourable supreme court ultimately decided to sentence the accused to three years in prison and a punishment of Rs. 5,000, with a further three months of incarceration if the fine was not paid.
2. Sanjay Dutt VS The State of Maharashtra:
Wherein well-known Bollywood actor Sanjay Dutt was charged with having unlawful weapons during the 1993 Mumbai attacks, including an Ak-56 assault rifle. After a protracted legal battle, Dutt was ultimately found guilty in 2006 under the Arms Act and given a six-year prison sentence. The case’s history begins on March 12, 1993, when a string of bombings in Mumbai rocked the city and left over 250 people dead and hundreds injured. Following an inquiry by the authorities, it became clear that a gang of terrorists with ties to Pakistan was responsible for the explosion. Sanjay Dutt was one of the people the police discovered during their investigation who they believed to be connected to the terrorists. He was later taken into custody on April 19, 1994, and it was claimed that he had obtained the illicit weapons from infamous mobster Dawood Ibrahim, who was thought to be the bombs’ mastermind. Dutt could not present a legitimate licence for the firearms, despite his claims that he had purchased them to defend his family from any threats. After numerous turns and turns in the case, Dutt was ultimately found guilty in accordance with the 2006 Arms Act. The Supreme Court granted him bail notwithstanding the lower court’s six-year prison term. The more serious allegations of conspiracy and terrorism were ultimately dropped, but his conviction under the arms legislation stood.
After Dutt filed an appeal with the Supreme Court, the court lowered his sentence from six to five years in 2013. He turned himself in to the police and was imprisoned in Pune’s Yerwada jail. In 2016, he was freed due to good behaviour. Due to the fact that Dutt was a victim of his circumstances, his admirers and supporters rallied around him as the case garnered significant media attention. The court did, however, uphold his conviction, highlighting how crucial it is to strictly stick to the arms race in order to preserve peace and order in the nation.
3.Ganesh Chandra Bhatt VS Distt. Magistrate, Almorgand Ors.:
Article 21’s protection of the right to self-defence indeed includes the right to bear arms. The licence is considered to have been issued by the government if, after three months, the applicant has not heard back from the authorities despite having followed the correct procedures to get a licence for a non-prohibited firearm. The Mahabharata-derived tradition of worshipping guns during the Dussehra and Diwali festivals is associated with a citizen’s self-respect and dignity,
which are necessary for them to exercise their Article 21 right to life. However, this ruling was reversed in the wake of the bombings in Bombay in 1993, which led to the abolition of the constitutional protection afforded to the right to bear arms. As a result, the right to bear arms is now recognised as a legal right under the Arms Act and is governed exclusively by its provisions.
4.Hari Chandra Bhatt VS State (NCT of Delhi):
The question concerned how to define the term “possession” under Section 25 of the Arms Act, which dealt with offences and punishments for individuals that carried a minimum three-year jail sentence, a maximum seven-year sentence, as well as a fine.
5. Atar Singh VS State:
The Arms Act of 1959’s Section 1(3) was contested on the grounds that it was unconstitutional. According to the clause, the Central Government may designate a date for the Arms Act, 1959 to go into effect by publishing a notification in the official gazette. The court made the observation that since the ability to determine the Act’s start date is being transferred, courts must exercise liberal judgement and shouldn’t typically deem a clause like this to be ultra-vires. According to the court, Section 1(3) of the Arms Act, 1959, which grants the Central Government the authority to choose the Act’s start date, is therefore lawful.
6. Kailash Nath VS State of U.P:
The five-judge bench of the court ruled that granting an arms licence is a privilege rather than a right. The court said that while every person has the right to apply for an arms licence for the purpose of defending themselves and their property, the State bears the primary responsibility for these tasks. The court also noted that Article 21 of the Constitution, which guarantees the protection of life and personal liberty, does not apply to the right to bear arms.
7. Gayan Din VS State:
The applicant, who had been found guilty of carrying a weapon and ammunition under Section 19(f) of the Arms Act and sentenced to 18 months of hard labour, submitted a revision petition. In his not-guilty plea, the applicant refuted the claims that the handgun and ammunition were found on him. The prosecution provided substantial proof of the previously mentioned recovery. 
Based on the facts at hand, the trial court found the applicant guilty in accordance with Section 19(f) of the Arms Act and imposed the aforementioned penalty. He filed this revision in the High Court after his appeal before the Sessions Court was denied. The applicant’s conviction and punishment were upheld by the High Court, which rejected the revision.
UNITED STATES CASE LAWS
- District of Colombia VS Heller:
The United States Supreme Court ruled that the Second Amendment safeguards a person’s ability to own a firearm for customarily legal uses like home defence and self-defence, without having to be associated with militia membership. The Court further decided that the Second Amendment’s protections are not unrestricted. The possession and use of any kind of weapon, for any reason, in any way, is not permitted.
2. MC. Donald VS City of Chicago:
The United States Supreme Court ruled that state and municipal regulations are subject to the Second Amendment, which protects “the right of the people to keep and bear arms,” in addition to federal legislation.
India already has some of the most severe gun laws in the world, covering a wide range of activities. This has caused only roughly 10 out of every 100 killings in India to involve a gun. Still, the use of an illicit firearm is a contributing factor in over 90% of firearm-related deaths. Controlling the illicit and unlicensed production, possession, purchase, and exchange of firearms thus becomes crucial. There is a great deal of room for improvement in this area, and a major step in the right direction could result in an even greater decline in India’s gun violence rates. In India, owning and using firearms has long been controversial and the focus of intense judicial scrutiny. Many intellectuals and proponents of gun rights have regarded India’s gun restrictions and policies as among the strictest and most uncompromising in the world. The Indian government adopted new gun control regulations after independence, incorporating the main provisions of the antiquated gun laws that were in place during the British Raj. The Arms Act, 1959, which amends several outdated regulations to better suit the requirements of contemporary, independent India, is a major piece of new gun control legislation that significantly affects the country’s gun restrictions.
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