Case BriefsHigh Courts

Delhi High Court: Sanjeev Sachdeva, J. allowed a petition filed against the order of farming of charge, whereby the petitioner was charged for having committed an offence punishable under Section 30 of the Arms Act for violating conditions of the license.

The petitioner was a resident of Noida, UP. He held a valid arms license for the State of U.P. He was found in possession of a live cartridge while undergoing x-ray screening at the Indira Gandhi International Airport, Delhi. Aishwarya Dobhal and Hilal Haider, Advocates for the petitioner contended that he was not in “conscious” possession of the said cartridge and therefore no charge could be framed against him.

Agreeing with the counsel for the petitioner, the High Court observed: “petitioner did not make any attempt to conceal the live cartridge in the bag and had handed over the bag for x-ray screening. It is common knowledge that in case any arms or ammunition are present in a bag which is screened by X-Ray, the arm and ammunition would be easily detected unless an attempt is made to conceal the same”. The Court noted that it was not the case of the prosecution that any attempt was made by the petitioner to conceal the same so as to avoid detection. It was held: From the perusal of the record it can be safely inferred that the presence of live cartridge in the handbag was not within the knowledge of the petitioner and petitioner did not have requisite mens rea for committing the said offence.” Reliance was placed upon the Supreme Court decision in Gunwantlal v. State of M.P., (1972) 2 SCC 194.

In such view of the matter, the petition was allowed and the charge as farmed was held not sustainable. [Anjum Asgar Zaidi v. State (NCT of Delhi), 2019 SCC OnLine Del 8649, decided on 20-05-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Delhi High Court: Sangita Dhingra Sehgal, J., quashed an FIR registered against the petitioner under Section 25 of the Arms Act, 1959 for being found in possession of a live cartridge at the Indira Gandhi International Airport, New Delhi.

The petitioner was travelling from New Delhi to Canada by China Southern Airlines. During the course of screening, one live cartridge was detected inside his check-in baggage. Pursuant to the same, the aforesaid FIR was registered. The petitioner prayed for quashing of the FIR.

The petitioner, represented by Siddhartha Shankar Ray, Abhik Kumar, Suryadeep Singh and Rinku Mathur, Advocates, submitted that he held a valid Arms License. Furthermore, while packing his jacket, the petitioner failed to notice that one cartridge had been left in it which was detected at the Airport. Per contra, Rajesh Mahajan, Additional Standing Counsel for the State opposed the present petition.

Relying, inter alia, on Gunwantlal v. State of M.P., (1972) 2 SCC 194 and Sanjay Dutt v. State, (1994) 5 SCC 410, the High Court stated: “With respect to the issue of ‘conscious possession’ , it is settled law that the expression ‘possession’ under Section 25 of the Arms Act, 1959 refers to possession backed with the requisite mental element, that is, ‘conscious possession’. Mere custody without the awareness of the nature of such possession does not constitute an offence under the Arms Act, 1959.”

Holding that the requisite mental element was not present in the present case, the Court quashed the FIR registered against the petitioner. However, costs of Rs 20, 000 was imposed on him for his casual attitude which set in motion the entire state machinery.[Davinder Singh Dhindsa v. State (NCT of Delhi), 2019 SCC OnLine Del 7895, decided on 01-04-2019]