The High Court of Delhi has asked the Ministry of External Affairs to inform the Embassies and High Commissions in Delhi that their citizens should be well aware of the local laws in order to avoid inadvertent violations.
“Having regard to frequency of registration of such cases as at hand, it will be in the fitness of things that the Ministry of External Affairs sends a communication to all Embassies, Consulates or High Commissions in India advising foreign nationals travelling to this country as to the desirability to bear in mind the local laws, particularly such laws as Arms Act so that inadvertent infractions of this kind as were the subject matter of these cases do not recur,” Justice R.K. Gauba observed.
The Court was hearing two Petitions filed for quashing of FIRs lodged under the Arms Act against two foreigners, one from the UK and the other from Kenya. Both the citizens had travelled to India on a valid visa, and were caught with bullets while leaving the country.
The two had now demanded that the FIRs against them be quashed as the cartridges were not in their conscious possession and, therefore, they did not commit any intentional acts of commission or omission to constitute an offence under Section 25 of the Arms Act. While the UK National had claimed that the bullet might have been inadvertently left in her bag by some of her friends in Australia, the Kenyan National had contended that he had a valid arms licence in his country.
The Court noted that the FIRs as well as investigation in both cases “do not indicate anything even remotely suggesting conscious possession”. It therefore quashed the FIRs against the two, and observed, “The learned Additional Standing Counsel fairly conceded that the investigation in both the cases has not thrown up any evidence suggesting the petitioners were aware of the presence of the ammunition in their respective baggage. Thus, in this view, carrying of the ammunition in the baggage cannot be described as conscious possession so as to constitute the offence under Section 25 of the Arms Act.”
Read the Judgment here.