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“in The Absence Of Any Animus Possidendi, An Offence Under Section 25 Of The Arms Act Can Not Be Made Out”- Kerala High Court

Diya Pradeep ,
  29 May 2023       Share Bookmark

Court :
Kerala High Court
Brief :

Citation :
CRL.MC NO. 922 OF 2023

Case title:


Date of Order:



Mr. Justice Kurian Thomas 


Petitioner- Shantanu Yadav Rao Hire

Respondent- State of Kerala


The Arms Act, 1959 is an Act of the Parliament of India that regulates the possession, use, sale, and import of arms, ammunition, and other explosives in India. The Act applies to every Indian citizen, including members of the armed forces. The Act prohibits the possession, manufacture, sale, acquisition, and transfer of arms, ammunition, and explosives without a valid license from the appropriate authority. The Act also regulates the import and export of arms and ammunition. It is enforced by the Central Government and the State Governments, as well as the police and other law enforcement authorities.


Arms Act, 1959

  • Section 3
  • Section 25


The petitioner was a businessman who had a license to possess arms within Maharashtra.

A live cartridge was discovered in the petitioner's bag through screening, while he was about to board a flight from Kannur Airport to return to his home state.

Despite the petitioner claiming ignorance of the cartridge, an FIR was filed against him under sections 3 and 25(1B)(a) of the Act.


Is the seizure of a live cartridge from a passenger's bag at the airport, without the seizure of corresponding firearms, an offence under the Arms Act, 1959?


  • Sri. Asif Ali represented the petitioners in the present case.
  • It was contended on behalf of the petitioner that the offense under section 25 cannot be attracted against him as he was not in conscious possession of ammunition.
  • The counsel urged that the petitioner had no criminal record and his track is unblemished.
  • Additionally, it was argued that a single live cartridge without a corresponding firearm is minor ammunition protected under section 45 (d) of the Act.


  • The Kerala High Court bench consisting of Mr. Justice Kurian Thomas quashed the case against the petitioner and granted him relief.
  • The court firstly relied on the case of Gunwantlal v. State of Madhya Pradesh [(1972) 2 SCC 194] to state that the prerequisite condition to attract an offense under section 25(1)(a) is the knowledge and intention of carrying a firearm. The second element is possession of a firearm, either constructive or actual.
  • It was ruled by the court that if there was no conscious knowledge of the firearm, the person wouldn’t be held liable under section 25 of the Act. However, if a person exercises control over the firearm, he would be liable even if he didn't physically possess it.
  • Reliance was placed on the cases Golap Saikia v. State of NCT of Delhi & Another [(2017 SCC Online Del.7680)] and Narendra Kumar Gupta v. State of NCT of Delhi [(2021 SCC Online Del. 2335)] to point out that when a firearm is not recovered from the petitioner, there was no threat to anyone at the airport, and the recovery of a single cartridge does not imply that the petitioner had the intention to possess a firearm.


The present case interpreted the elements of section 25 of the Arms Act, 1959, and clarified when an offense can be made under this section. The court held that conscious possession is the first and foremost requirement for attracting an offense under section 25 of the Act. The court also observed that the continuance of the prosecution against the accused amounts to an abuse of the process of the court as it was held that the petitioner had no intention to carry the firearm or any knowledge of the same.

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