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Delhi High Court Quashes FIR Against Student Found With Twenty Live Cartridges Stating Unconscious Firearms Possession Will Not Attract Arms Act

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The Delhi High Court had quashed an FIR (First Information Report) registered against an engineering student. This was done under the Arms Act after he was found boarding a flight with 20 live cartridges, to Ahmedabad. (Adhiraj Singh Yadav vs State)

Facts of the Case

The Petitioner had to appear in the interview process for recruitment to the Air Force and thus, travelled to Ahmedabad. The Petitioner stated that luggage had been borrowed by him from the wife of the landlord.  The landlord wasn’t aware of the presence of the ammunition in the sleeves of the luggage bag.  It was further claimed that the landlord held a valid arms licence.  The Petitioner was represented by advocate Kumar Piyush Pushkar and Additional Standing Counsel, Rajesh Mahajan represented the State. 

Contentions raised by the Petitioner

The Petitioner stated that in a hurry, he had packed his belongings oblivious to the existence of live ammunition in the baggage.  

Court’s Observation

A single-judge bench of Justice Vibhu Bakhru had been set up.  It ruled that unconscious possession would not attract the rigours of Arms Act. The High Court relied on the Supreme Court’s decision in Gunwant Lal v. State.  The Court recorded that the element of consciousness or knowledge of the possession of a firearm must be present as per the Arms Act. In this context, reliance was placed on the Supreme Court decision in Sanjay Dutt vs State.

In the context of the word ‘possession’, it must mean possession with the requisite mental element. This includes conscious possession and not mere custody without the awareness of the nature of such possession. The Court stated that there was a mental element in the concept of possession.

Court’s Decision

The Court concluded that the law regarding this was settled. An Offence under Section 25 of the Arms Act would not be made out in cases where the suspect was not conscious of the possession of live ammunition. The State also submitted that there was no material to doubt the explanation provided by the petitioner. Thus, the Court considered it apposite to allow the petition.  FIR (First Information Report) against the Petitioner was quashed to meet the ends of justice.

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