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A Brief Of Arms Act 1959

The Indian Parliament passed the Arms Act, 1959, with the sole intention of consolidating and amending the laws governing arms and ammunition. This was absolutely necessary to deal with the threat posed by people who carried illegal weapons that could be used for criminal acts to cause violence in society.As stated explicitly in Chapter II of the same, the Act aims to be as comprehensive as possible to cover all aspects relating to the acquisition, possession, manufacture, sale, import, export, and transportation of arms and ammunition.

In addition, the provisions for arrest, search, and seizure, as well as detention orders, are detailed in Chapter IV of the Act, which explains the powers and procedures that the government and other officials can use to regulate the use and possession of arms and ammunition in India.

History of the Arms Act
The sepoy mutiny of 1857 was the very first instance in which Indians used guns to cause alarm among the British, who were in power at the time.The British introduced the infamous Enfield rifle to the Indian sepoys for use in this unsettling event during colonial times.However, in order for the sepoys to use the rifle, they had to bite off the greased cartridges made of pig and cow lard.

This was a strategy used to make fun of Muslims' and Hindus' religious beliefs, and it led to a lot of violence and unhappiness among the Indian people.As a result, the sepoys gained momentum to band together and launch a violent revolt against British officials.

The English, on understanding the speed with which the Indians had the option to set their disparities to the side and hold hands to battle against their mistreatment concluded that the best way to forestall any future mass uprisings against them was to lay out a Demonstration that confined the Indians from having any arms.The Indian Arms Act of 1878 was the result of this.This Act said that only Indians could have arms if they had a proper license or permission first.

During Lord Lytton's tenure as Viceroy of India at the time, this Act further regulated the manufacture, sale, possession, and carrying of firearms.

The fact that Europeans were conveniently exempt from the Act's provisions while Indians were subject to severe penalties for possessing any type of weapon demonstrated the Act's hypocrisy.

The Indian Arms Act of 1959, enacted by the Indian government after independence, recognized that certain law-abiding citizens must own and use firearms for sports, crop protection, and self-defense. The 1962 Arms Rules came after this Act.

The Arms Act of 1959's goals and scope According to the preamble, the Act's goal is to "consolidate and amend the law relating to arms and ammunition." The primary objective of this Act is to regulate and limit the illegal circulation of weapons and ammunition.It stipulates the procedure for obtaining licenses for certain categories of weapons or ammunition and prohibits civilian use of dangerous weapons. This Act applies to India as a whole.

Additionally, the people's right to keep and bear arms has been recognized as a legal right by this Act.It was realized that granting them access to certain weapons and ammunition is necessary in certain circumstances, such as self-defense or when there is a serious threat to life or property.

Important terms from the Arms Act of 1959: "Ammunition" means things used to shoot guns. According to Section 2(b) of this Act, the term "ammunition" includes:

articles used to contain any explosives, fulminating or fissionable material, noxious liquid or gas, or other things that can or cannot be used with firearms, charges for firearms and their accessories, fuses or friction tubes, manufacturing machinery or parts of ammunition, and any other ingredients specified by the Central government. rockets, bombs, grenades, shells, or missiles. articles used in torpedo service and submarine mining.

Articles designed as weapons for offense or defense are considered arms according to Section 2(c)'s definition of the term. It includes weapons-making machinery and components, as well as any other sharp or deadly weapons. However, it excludes the following:

Lathi and walking sticks, for example, are examples of items made solely for domestic or agricultural use. Weapons that can only be used as toys or cannot be made into weapons that are usable also fall into this category.

Firearms The term "firearms" is defined in Section 2(e) as "arms designed to discharge a projectile or projectiles through an explosion or any other form of energy."It contains:

Artillery, hand grenades, riot pistols, or weapons that can shoot noxious gases or liquids, accessories for firearms that reduce the noise or flash they make, manufacturing equipment or firearm parts, and firearm transport vehicles, platforms, and appliances.

Provision for licenses
Obtaining an arms license is not a simple process. Indian firearm laws are among the strictest in the world, in contrast to those in the United States, where the right to bear arms is protected by the constitution. Due to the numerous steps required to satisfy the authorities that a person is eligible to possess a firearm, obtaining a license to possess a firearm can take at least a year.

A valid license issued in accordance with the Act's provisions is required to be in possession of any firearm or ammunition, according to Section 3 of the Act. Individuals are permitted to keep no more than three firearms under the 1959 act. Within 90 days of the Act's commencement, any excess must be deposited at the closest police station.

The appropriate licensing authority must be contacted for an arms license application that includes all required documentation and fees.21 years old is the minimum age required to be eligible to own a firearm. However, in the case of a "junior target shooter," a person under the age of 16 is permitted to own a firearm.

Documents such as identity proof, address proof, proof of age and education, four passport-sized photographs, income tax returns for the last three years, a character certificate, and certificates of physical and mental health must be submitted with an individual's license application.

A person must demonstrate an imminent threat to life in order to obtain a self-defense license. However, there is also the possibility of wild animals.

The individual is subjected to a two-month background check by the police, which includes an interview period with the individual's family and neighbors to assess his or her nature�whether he or she is aggressive or suppressive, has a criminal history of domestic violence or aggression, etc.

Finally, licensing authorities interview the applicant and decide whether to approve or deny the application for a license. The police reports are kept in the Police Criminal Branch of the National Crime Record Bureau.

In order to ensure that the applicant handles the firearm in a safe and responsible manner, the applicant is required to take an "arms handling" course if the license is granted. Licenses to carry arms are valid for three years.

Any time a person wants to have their licenses or weapons taken away, the Central Government has the final say. Additionally, they have complete control over the production, import, export, and sale of such weapons and ammunition.

If the individual is already prohibited from possessing any arms and ammunition under the provisions of this Act or under any other law currently in effect, or if the individual is found to be of unsound mind or age of minor, the licensing authority has the authority to deny the individual the license to possess arms (Section 14 of the Act).

In accordance with Section 5 of the Act, no one is permitted to use, manufacture, sell, transfer, convert, repair, or test firearms or ammunition without first receiving a license.However, a person who is not prohibited from possessing such arms or ammunition by this Act may sell or transfer arms and ammunition that he legally owns for his own use.The person selling or transferring firearms that require a license should inform the district magistrate with jurisdiction or the officer at the nearest police station about:

The name and address of the person to whom he plans to transfer or sell these firearms, as well as the sale or transfer of those firearms.

It is important to note that the person selling or transferring these firearms must do so within 45 days of providing this information.

Licence for Arms Import/Export Section 10 of the Act makes it clear that no one is allowed to take arms or ammunition out of India by land, air, or water without a license.However, there are a few exceptions to this:

Without a license, any person who is eligible under this Act or any other Act, or who is not prohibited by this Act, may take such arms or ammunition out of India in reasonable quantities for his own personal use.

Only for the purpose of the sport can a legitimate tourist bring arms or ammunition into India in reasonable quantities.Such a person ought to be a citizen of the nation that has been identified by the Central Government in the Official Gazette, and the laws of that nation should not prohibit them from possessing any weapons or ammunition.

In addition, the Central Government grants the Commissioner of Customs extensive authority to hold weapons or ammunition pending an order from the Central Government.

The Act's Section 15 stipulates that the license will be valid for a period of three years beginning on the date it was granted.However, for any reason that must be recorded, it may be granted for a shorter period if the licensee so requests or if the licensing authority so deems appropriate.Unless the licensing authority decides otherwise for reasons that will be recorded, every license can be renewed in the same manner as it was granted in accordance with Sections 13 and 14.

License suspension Under the circumstances outlined in Section 17(3) of the Act, the license may be revoked or suspended:

If the licensing authority determines that it is necessary for public safety to revoke the license, if the license was obtained on the basis of incorrect information or by suppressing material information, if any conditions for the grant of the license were not fulfilled, if the license holder fails to comply with the notice under Section 17(1) of the Act, or if the license holder applies for such revocation, the license may be revoked if the licensing authority is satisfied that the individual is unable to acquire or possess arms

A succinct written statement outlining the reasons for such a revocation ought to be provided to the license holder by the licensing authority.

Types of Arms:
According to Section 2 of the Act, a person can have two main types of firearms:
  • Prohibited Bores (PB), which can only be utilized by the State Police, Central Paramilitary Forces, and Army.
  • Non-Prohibited Bores (NPB) are weapons that can be used by anyone with a valid arms license.

The measurements of the bore, which is the bullet's thickness or diameter, serve as the primary basis for the distinction between the two.

After the terrorist attacks in Mumbai in 2008, gun ownership laws changed.Personnel from the armed forces and family heirlooms were permitted to use prohibited bore firearms prior to the attack. However, following the attacks, PB firearms can only be owned by those who either pose a "serious and imminent threat" to themselves or members of their family as residents of terrorist-prone areas or are potential targets of terrorists due to the nature of their jobs.The Central Government is the only entity authorized to issue PB licenses.

The Act's Section 2(1)(h) includes a list of "prohibited ammunition," which includes rockets, bombs, grenades, shells, missiles, and articles designed for torpedo service and submarine mining. Additionally, the list includes ammunition containing any noxious gas or liquid.

In addition, adapted firearms that provide a continuous discharge of missiles upon applying pressure to the trigger or until the magazine containing the missiles is empty and weapons designed to discharge noxious liquids and gases are included in the list of prohibited arms in Section 2(1)(i) of the act.Artillery, anti-aircraft, and anti-tank weapons are also on the list.

The possession, acquisition, manufacture, and sale of the aforementioned prohibited arms and ammunition are all prohibited under Section 7 of the Act. In addition, young people (those under the age of 21) are prohibited from acquiring and possessing firearms through sale or transfer under Section 9 of the Act. The act's sections 24A and B, respectively, forbid the carrying of notified arms in public places in disturbed areas and the possession of notified arms in disturbed areas.

Deposition of illegal arms
According to Section 21 of the Act, if a person's license expires, is revoked, or is suspended to the point where the person can no longer legally possess the weapons, he or she must immediately surrender the illegal weapons to the appropriate officer at a police station.

Who can have arms
However the Demonstration doesn't explicitly give who can have specific arms and ammo, Segments 9 and 14 comprises of people who are restricted from getting or having such guns. According to Section 9(a), the following individuals are ineligible to possess or acquire firearms and ammunition:

Is under the age of 21 years old, has been convicted of a crime involving violence or moral turpitude, or has been ordered by the court to execute a bond for keeping the peace or good behavior in accordance with the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, during the term of that bond.

According to Section 14(b)(i), a person is not eligible for a license under the Act if a licensing authority has reason to believe that the individual is prohibited from acquiring, possessing, or carrying any arms or ammunition by any provisions of the Act or by any other law applicable at the time, is of unsound mind, or for any reason.

Powers of the central government
The Central Government can take the following actions by notifying the public in the Official Gazette:

Sections 11 and 12 prohibit the import or export of particular arms or ammunition, while Sections 17(9) and 17(9) direct the licensing authority to suspend or revoke any license issued under this Act. Section 41 exempts or excludes any person or class of persons in relation to specified arms or ammunition from the operation of certain provisions or the entire provisions of this Act. Section 42 directs a census of firearms in any area and empowers any officer to conduct such census. Section 43 delegate its powers or functions to any officer sub

According to the Indian Limitation Act of 1908, anyone who is dissatisfied with a licensing authority's decision can appeal that decision to the appellate authority within a specified time frame. However, there can be no appeal against an order if it is issued by the government or under its direction.

A written petition with a brief explanation of the reasons for appealing against the order is required for this appeal. It ought to likewise be joined by the recommended expenses.The appellate authority should give the appellant a reasonable opportunity to be heard before deciding on such an appeal. Unless the appellate authority directs otherwise, the order against which the appeal was filed will remain in effect. Whether to modify, confirm, or reverse the order, the appellate authority's decision is final.

Case law relevant to the Arms Act:
  1. Right to possess arms and ammunition as a fundamental right under Article 21 in Ganesh Chandra Bhatt v. Distt Magistrate, Almora & Ors. (According to Article 21 of the Constitution, the question was whether the right to bear arms was a part of the right to self-defense, which is a part of the right to life and liberty.The Court made the following observations in this case:

    According to Article 21, the right to self-defense encompassed the right to bear arms.

    After three months, the license is considered to have been granted by the government if the applicant has followed the proper procedure to obtain the license for a non-prohibited firearm but has not received any communication from the authorities.

    The Mahabharata tradition of worshiping firearms during the festivals of Dussehra and Diwali is associated with a citizen's self-respect and dignity, which were necessary for their right to life under Article 21.

    This decision, on the other hand, was overturned in response to the bombings in Bombay in 1993. As a result, the right to bear arms was no longer protected by the Constitution; instead, the Arms Act now governs the right to bear arms and it is recognized as a legal right under the Act.
  2. In the case of Hari Kishan v. State (NCT Of Delhi) (2019), the issue was regarding the interpretation of the word "possession" under Section 25 of the Arms Act, which dealt with the offenses and penalties for individuals that resulted in imprisonment for a minimum period of three years, extendable to seven years with a fine. "Conscious possession" as a core ingredient to establish guilt for an offense punishable under Section 25 of the Arms Act.

In this instance, it was discovered that the petitioner had a supposedly live cartridge in the side pocket of his bag, which officials who were checking bags at the Saket metro station noticed. This finding led to an immediate charge sheet against the petitioner under Section 25 of the Arms Act.

The petitioner claimed that he was completely shocked and surprised because he had no idea the live cartridge was in the side pocket of his bag and was instead framed for it. The petitioner had never been in trouble. It was also demonstrated that he lacked any kind of weapon or firearm. In addition, he was unaware that the live cartridge was present, or, to put it another way, he was unquestionably not in conscious possession of the live cartridge.

He stated that conscious possession was covered by Section 25 of the Act, and that custody without knowledge of the nature of possession could not be considered an offense under the Act. According to Section 45 of the Act, "the acquisition, possession or carrying by a person of minor parts of arms or ammunition which are not intended to be used along with complementary parts acquired or possessed by them of any other person" does not constitute an offense, as the petitioner further informed the Court.

Because there was no "whisper of averment in the First Information Report (FIR) as averred in the charge sheet that the petitioner was aware of being in alleged conscious and knowledgeable possession of the ammunition in question," the Court agreed with the petitioner's arguments and declared that "the FIR against the petitioner as well as the proceedings emanating therefrom were quashed."

The facts of the preceding case are comparable to those of Rachelle Joel Oseran v. The State of Maharashtra and Others (2018), which dealt with the issue of "conscious possession" and resulted in the same verdict as the preceding case.

In conclusion
The Ministry of Home Affairs' most recent plan is to keep a National Database of Arms Licenses, which will be an official record of those who hold arms licenses and serve as a means of controlling the issue and reducing illegal activity to a minimum. Statistics show that, as of January 2021, the use of guns, the majority of which are unregistered and illegal, continues to be the leading cause of death in India, despite legislative efforts to curb the problem.

India couldn't measure up to the USA concerning weapon control as the last option is a created country, with a more significant level of education and a lower crime percentage than India. In the United States, the government is better able to investigate applicants for arms and control the flow of arms through the country. Even though India is moving in the same direction, there is still a long way to go.

Since our own famous freedom fighters, a lot of people have argued about whether or not guns will ever be protected by the constitution in India."Among the many misdeeds of the British rule in India, history will look upon the Act depriving a whole nation of arms as the blackest," Mahatma Gandhi said.This is a golden opportunity for us to learn how to use weapons and repeal the Arms Act.The ban on owning weapons will be lifted and distrust will disappear if the middle classes volunteer to assist the government during its trial.

As can be inferred from his statement, "I personally myself cannot conceive how it would be possible for the State to carry on its administration if every individual had the right to go into the market and purchase all sorts of instruments of attack without any let or hindrance from the State," Dr. B. R. Ambedkar's views on firearms, on the other hand, were completely different. Written By: Jasdip Kaur Advocate Ex Law officer Women and Child Dept Govt of Delhi Nct Ex panel lawyer govt of Delhi NCT I did my schooling from Ghps Vasant Vihar New Delhi Graduation in BA English Hons from Mata Sundri college of Women University of Delhi i did my LLM ( Uslls IP university Delhi Dwarka) currently pursuing my Phd in Law .
Email: [email protected], Ph no: 9821378225

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