Indian Arms Act


By-:               Submitted by: BHUMIKA AGRAWAL


The Indian Parliament passed the Arms Act, 1959 with the express intent of combining and modifying the rules governing weapons and ammunition. This was needed in order to stop the threat posed by those in possession of illicit weapons who might use them to commit. crimes and inflict damage on society. As stated clearly in Chapter II of the same, the Act attempts to be as comprehensive as possible in order to cover all elements relating to the purchase, possession, manufacturing, sale, import, export, and transportation of arms and ammunition. Additionally, Chapter IV of the Act describes in detail the methods and authority that the government and other officials can employ to control the use and ownership of weapons and ammunition in India has laws governing orders for arrest, searches, seizures, and detention.


The sepoy revolt of 1857 was the first incident involving the use of guns by Indians that alarmed the British, who were in charge at the time. This unpleasant incident occurred during colonial times when the British gave the Indian sepoys the famed Enfield gun. The sepoys had to bite off the lubricated cartridges, which were greased with a mixture of pig and cow tallow, in order to use the gun, though. This technique, which was intended to offend the religious sensibilities of Muslims and Hindus, respectively, resulted in widespread bloodshed and unrest among the Indian sepoys. This gave the sepoys motivation to band together and start a violent insurrection against the British authorities. When the British saw how quickly the Indians were able to set aside their differences and band together to fight against their oppression, they realized that the only way to stop any other large-scale uprisings against them was to enact an Act that prohibited the Indians from owning any weapons. The Indian Arms Act of 1878 was born out of this. This Act restricted the possession of weapons to Indians who had obtained prior authorization or a valid license. This Act, which was put into effect when Lord Lytton was the viceroy of India at the time, further restricted the manufacturing, sale, possession, and carrying of guns. This Act’s duplicity was clear because Europeans were conveniently spared from its requirements while if it was discovered that any Indians were in possession of a weapon, severe sanctions and punishments were proposed. Following independence, the Indian government passed the Indian Arms Act, 1959, recognizing the need for some law-abiding residents to own and use firearms for hunting, protecting crops, and self-defense. The Arms Rules of 1962 came after this Act.


Getting an arms license is not a simple process. The Indian firearm regulations are some of the harshest in the world, in contrast to the United States of America, where the freedom to bear arms is protected by the constitution. Due to the extensive process involved, getting a license to possess a handgun can take at least a full year. To prove to the authorities that one is qualified to own a firearm, one must go through.

According to Section 3 of the Act, only people having valid licenses granted in compliance with the Act’s rules are permitted to own any firearms or ammunition. A person is only allowed to own a maximum of three weapons under the 1959 act. Within 90 days of the Act’s start date, the excess, if any, must be deposited at the closest police station.

Applications for the issuance of an arms license must be submitted to the proper licensing body in the correct format, along with the necessary supporting documentation and fee. An individual must be at least a certain age. The minimum age to own a gun is 21. However, a person must be 16 years old in order to own a firearm as a “junior target shooter.”

A person must submit several supporting documents with their license application, including identification, proof of address, proof of age and education, four passport-sized photos, income tax returns from the previous three years, a character reference, and physical and mental health certifications.

To get a self-defense permit, the applicant must demonstrate that a serious threat to life is imminent. However, the threat posed by wild animals might be a part of this.

After receiving the application, the police conduct a two-month long background investigation on the applicant. entails interviewing the person’s family and neighbors to determine whether they are aggressive or repressive, whether they have a criminal history of aggressiveness or domestic violence, etc.

Finally, the licensing authorities interview the applicant and make a decision regarding whether to accept or deny the license application. The police records are kept on file with the Police Criminal Branch of the National Crime Record Bureau.

In order to ensure that the application handles the handgun safely and responsibly if the license is granted, the applicant is required to take a “arms handling” course. Licenses to possess weapons are good for three years. The decision to revoke permits ultimately rests with the central government. and individuals’ weapons at any given time. Additionally, they have exclusive control over the production, import, export, and sale of these weapons and ammunition. According to Section 14 of the Act, the licensing authority may refuse to issue a license for a person to possess firearms if the person is already prohibited from doing so by the terms of this Act or by any other law currently in effect, or if the person is determined to be of unsound mind or of a minor age.

Kinds Of Weapons

The Act divides the types of firearms that a person may own into two basic groups under Section 2:

PBs, or Prohibited Bores, are only permitted for use by the Army and Central Paramilitary forces. likewise, the State police.

Non-Prohibited Bores (NPB), which are accessible to anyone with a current license to possess weapons.

The measures of the bore, which is the thickness or diameter of the bullet, serve as the main basis for making this differentiation between the two. The gun ownership norms changed as a result of the 2008 Mumbai terrorist attacks. Before the attack, both members of the armed services and family heirlooms were permitted to use banned bore rifles. After the attacks, however, only those people who face a “severe and imminent threat” to themselves or their families due to living in terrorist-prone locations or who are prospective targets of terrorists due to their occupations are permitted. possess PB weapons. Only the Central Government has the authority to give PB licenses


The term “prohibited ammunition” is defined in Section 2(1)(h) of the Act to include all ammunition that contains noxious liquids, gases, or other similar substances, as well as rockets, bombs, grenades, shells, missiles, and articles made for torpedo service and underwater mining. Additionally, modified firearms that continuously release missiles upon pulling the trigger or until the magazine holding the missiles is empty as well as any weapons made to discharge noxious liquids and gases are included in the list of forbidden weapons in Section 2(1)(I) of the act. The list also contains anti-aircraft, anti-tank, and artillery weapons. The act’s Section 7 forbids the ownership, acquisition, manufacturing, or sale of the previously mentioned illegal weapons and ammo. Additionally, Section 9 of the law forbids the sale or transfer of guns to minors for their purchase or possession (those individuals who have not completed 21 years of age). The ownership of notified arms in disturbed areas is prohibited by Sections 24A and B of the act, as does the carrying of notified guns in or through public places in disturbed areas.


In accordance with Section 21 of the Act, if a person’s licence becomes expired, revoked, or suspended, further possession of the firearms by that person is prohibited, that person must immediately deliver the firearms in his or her possession to the designated officer of a police station. The person breaks the law.


Article 21 defines the right to own weapons and ammunition as a basic right.


In this 1993 case the question of whether the right to keep and bear arms constituted a component of the right to self-defense, which is a part of the right to life and liberty under Article 21 of the Constitution, was at stake. The Court made the following observations in this case: The right to self-defense, which is covered by Article 21, does in fact include the right to bear arms.

If the applicant has followed the proper steps to obtain the license for a handgun that is not restricted but has not heard from the authorities, The license is regarded as having been issued by the government when three months have passed.

The tradition of worshipping firearms during the Dussehra and Diwali festivals has its origins in the Mahabharata and is associated with a citizen’s self-respect and dignity, which are necessary for them to exercise their right to life protected by Article 21.

The constitutional protection for the right to bear arms was removed as a result of this decision, which was then reversed in the wake of the 1993 Bombay bombings. Since then, the right to bear arms has only been governed by the Arms Act’s provisions and is recognized as a legal right under said act. The term “conscious possession “a necessary component to prove guilt for an act punished by Section 25 of the Arms Act


In the case of, the issue involved how Section 25 of the Arms Act, which dealt with the offences and penalties for individuals that resulted in imprisonment for a minimum period of three years, extendable to seven years, and a fine, should be interpreted in relation to the word “possession.” The petitioner in this instance was allegedly in possession of a live cartridge, which officers conducting the luggage check at the Saket metro station discovered in the side pocket of his bag. As a result of this finding, the petitioner was immediately under Section 25 of the Arms Act, a charge sheet. The petitioner stated that he was completely shocked and surprised because he was falsely accused of having a live cartridge in the side pocket of his bag when, in fact, he had no knowledge of its presence. The petitioner was unblemished. Additionally, it was established that he was in possession of no weapons at all, including firearms. Furthermore, he was not aware of the live cartridge’s existence, therefore it is clear that he was not consciously in possession of it. He claimed that Section 25 of the Act covered conscious possession and that merely having custody without being aware of the nature of that possession could not be a crime under that section. Additionally, the petitioner alerted the court to the fact that the Act’s provisions could not be applied in this situation because, as stated in Section 45 of the Act, “the acquisition, possession, or carrying by a person of minor parts of arms or ammunition which are not intended for use along with complementary parts acquired or possessed by them of any other person” does not constitute the commission of an offence. The petitioner’s claims were accepted by the court, and it was noted that the charge sheet did not contain even a “whisper of an allegation that the petitioner was aware of being in alleged conscious and knowledgeable possession of the ammunition in question, The FIR against the petitioner and the related actions were dismissed.

The facts of the aforementioned case are comparable to RACHELLE JOEL OSERAN V. THE STATE OF MAHARASHTRA AND OTHERS (2018), which involved the question of “conscious possession,” and the court in that case also reached the same conclusion as in the aforementioned case.


The Weapons (Amendment) Bill, 2019, primarily changed the definition of “arms” to include firearms, swords, and anti-aircraft missiles. The use of illegal firearms in the commission of crimes was remained pervasive in society despite the previous act’s efforts to break the link between such weapons and criminal activity. Furthermore, the credibility the number of weapons that may be in a person’s possession (as long as they have a valid license) was decreased from three to two, while the duration of the arms license was increased from three to five years. This includes weapons that were passed down as a family treasure. The acquisition or procurement of unlicensed firearms was added to the list of offences, along with the conversion of one category of firearm to another without a current license, which included improvements made to the firearm’s performance. The contestants of professional shooting as a sport in India were one group who expressed worry about the restriction on the number of weapons allowed for possession. In order to resolved address these concerns, the Ministry of Home Affairs issued a notice that was published on February 24, 2020, allowing professional shooters to keep more firearms and to increase the amount of ammunition that was allowed to be used for their practice.


In comparison to the Arms Act of 1959, the severity of the sentence has nearly doubled under the 2019 Arms (Amendment) Bill. For instance, under Section 25 (1AA) of the 1959 Act, which dealt with the manufacture, sale, maintenance, and possession of proscribed weapons, the penalty was a minimum seven-year sentence that could be increased to a maximum of ten years in jail. However, the proposed amendment lengthens the required time frame. 14 years of incarceration is the minimum sentence, and a life sentence is the maximum.


The Ministry of Home Affairs’ most recent goal is to preserve a National Database of Arms Licenses, which will act as an official list of license holders, in order to control the market and minimize unlawful activity. According to statistics as of January 2021, India continues to have the second-highest number of deaths from the use of firearms, the majority of which are unregistered and illegal, despite legislative measures to reduce the threat of illicit weapon offences. In terms of gun laws, India cannot be compared to the USA because the latter is a developed country. has more people who are literate and less crime than India. In the USA, the government is more effective at policing the importation of weapons and investigating those who apply for them. India still has a long way to go, although progressing in the same direction. Since the time of our own illustrious independence warriors, many people have debated the possibility of constitutional protection for firearms in India. The Act that prohibited a whole nation from possessing weapons would go down in history as the most heinous of the British Empire’s numerous atrocities committed in India, according to Mahatma Gandhi. If we desire the repeal of the Arms Act and knowledge of the here is a perfect opportunity to utilize force. In the hour of the Government’s trial, if the middle classes offer their free assistance, mistrust will vanish and the restriction on owning weapons will be lifted. However, as can be inferred from his statement that “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 had a completely different viewpoint on firearms

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