Friday, February 3, 2023

No member of Rifles Association or Club can hold more than two firearms: Delhi High Court

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The Delhi High Court single bench single judge held that any member of a Rifles’ Association or Club cannot hold more than two firearms by claiming exemptions under Section 3(2) of the Arms Act 1959.

Single bench of Justice Yashwant Varma stated that on temporary basis only can one have two firearms .The condition with this is that the additional weapon has to be licensed to the club or association that the said member was a part of.

In the current case the petitioner was a life member of the National and State Rifles Associations and had acquired a firearm license .

He acquired a point 22 bore target pistol in addition to the point 22 Rifle and point 32 revolver, already endorsed on his license.

In year 2019, the Arms Act, 1959 came to be amended and it reduced the number of firearms a person could bear from three to two. Earlier under ,Section 3 of Arms Act, it was allowed to hold up to three firearms.

The petitioner referred to the Section 3(3), in which dealers of firearms and Rifles’ Association or Clubs, were excluded from the operation of Section 3(2) of the Act.

The Joint Commissioner directed the petitioner to surrender one of his firearms. Thus, after the number of firearms that could be possessed was reduced from three to two.

The petitioner submitted that as per Section 3 of the Act, by virtue of being a member of the NRAI, he stood absolved from the obligation to deposit a firearm.

Notification issued by the Central Government was also referred by the petitioner which granted exemption to various categories of sportspersons engaged in shooting, enabling them to hold more than two weapons.

The court, held that while a person may be a member of a Rifles’ association or club, his individual right to bear or possess firearm was still controlled by the provisions of the Act.

The court further held that the reference used by the petitioners, could not be construed for giving special status to him.

The court stated that the rule only dealt with the quantity of firearms that may be possessed by different categories of sportspersons and sports organisations.

The court finally stated that allowing members of a club to hold arms without a limit would make the member at par with a dealer of firearms and rifle associations and clubs. That cannot possibly be construed as being the intent of Section 3(2)

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