Possession of bullet not enough for case under Arms Act

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Mere possession of a gun or cartridges is not a crime. A 39-year-old Bangladeshi businessman who was arrested in 2013 at the airport as live cartridges were found in his bag during a security check.

A division bench of Justices Ranjit More and Shalini Phansalkar-Joshi ruled that to constitute a crime under the Arms Act, it will have to be shown that the accused had the knowledge or was consciously carrying these arms or ammunition. The court struck down an FIR lodged by the Airport police station against Jhenaidah Sadar resident Latif Zahedee.

“A bare perusal of (the provisions of) the Arms Act clearly reveals that the term ‘possession’ used therein refers to ‘conscious possession’ and ‘not unconscious possession’ or ‘inadvertent possession’,” said the judges, and cited Supreme Court and high court judgments on the issue. “It is thus clear that mere possession of the firearm or ammunition would not constitute an offence (under law),” the bench said.

The Arms Act Provisions
* Section 3 says that no person can possess firearms and ammunition unless he obtains a licence for it Section 25 says that whoever brings in or takes out of India firearms or ammunition without a licence can be punished with a minimum imprisonment of three years and a maximum of seven years.

What the court says | A bare perusal of Sections 3 and 25 of the Arms Act clearly reveal that the term ‘possession’ used therein refers to ‘conscious possession’ and ‘not unconscious possession’ or ‘inadvertent possession’. Mere custody without awareness of the nature of such possession cannot fall under Sections 3 or 25 of the Arms Act