Criminal Law

Illegal Arms Possession

The Arms Act, 1959 was enacted by the Indian Parliament with the sole purpose of consolidating and amending the laws relating to arms and ammunition. This was the need of the hour in order to curb the menace caused by individuals holding illegal weapons which could be potentially used to perpetrate violence in society through criminal activities. The Act aims to be as extensive as possible to cover all aspects relating to the acquisition, possession, manufacture, sale, import, export and transport of arms and ammunition as stated.

Chapter IV of the Act elaborates upon the powers and procedures exercisable by the government and other officials in regulating the use and possession of arms and ammunition in India including provisions for arrest, search, seizure and detention orders.

Prohibitions

Section 7 of the act prohibits the possession, acquisition, manufacture or sale of the prohibited arms and ammunition as stated above.

Section 9 of the act further prohibits the acquisition and possession, whether by sale or transfer of the firearms to young persons (those individuals who have not completed 21 years of age).

Sections 24A and B of the act prohibit the possession of notified arms in disturbed areas and the carrying of notified arms in or through public places in disturbed areas respectively.

Penalties for offences

The quantum of punishment according to the Arms (Amendment) Bill, 2019 has been almost doubled as compared to the Arms Act of 1959.

For example, the punishment under Section 25 (1AA) of the 1959 Act which dealt with the manufacturing, selling, repairing and possessing prohibited arms, was a minimum of seven years of imprisonment which could be extended to a maximum of 10 years. The new amendment, however, extends the minimum period of imprisonment to a period of 14 years and the maximum term can extend to imprisonment for life.

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