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Mere Ownership Of Vehicle In Which Prohibited Ammunitions Are Found Won’t Attract Conviction Under Arms Act: SC [Read Judgment]

‘It is necessary to prove that the accused was in conscious possession at some point in time before the discovery and retained control of the objects at the time of the recovery.’

While acquitting an owner of a car in which prohibited ammunition was found, the Supreme Court has observed that it is necessary to prove that the accused was in conscious possession at some point in time before the discovery and retained control of the objects at the time of the recovery.

The trial court, in this case (Mohmed Rafiq Abdul Rahim Shaikh vs. State of Gujarat), had convicted the owner of the car and sentenced him for a period of seven years’ u/s 25(1)(a), 25 (1AA) read with Section 35 of the Arms Act, 1959.

Without any evidence of the proximity of A-2 with the car, or how he handed over the prohibited ammunition to A-1 or how he kept them in the car makes it difficult to imagine how he could have been convicted for possession of prohibited ammunition, the bench of Justice S.A. Bobde and Justice L. Nageswara Rao said.

The bench also observed this u/s 35 of the Arms Act, 1959, since it is not even the prosecution’s case that the accused were found in joint control or occupation of the Maruti Fronty car from which the prohibited ammunition was recovered. The court said a person cannot be charged with the offences unless it can be shown that he had the knowledge that any sort of prohibited item was present in his car. In this case, the bench noted that there is no evidence that the accused knew what the accused was carrying in the car or that he had kept the prohibited ammunition in the car. There is no evidence to establish the knowledge or even his consent.

“We do not take the view that a remote location of the firearm of ammunition or recovery from a remote place would exonerate an accused in all cases. But it is necessary to prove that the accused was in conscious possession at some point in time before the discovery and retained control of the objects at the time of the recovery,” the bench added.

The bench also acquitted an occupier of a bungalow where, according to the main accused, some more arms were hidden. This occupier was in prison when his house was raided. Taking note of this, the bench said: “In order to consider a finding of constructive possession it is necessary that either there is proof that the Accused had placed the weapons or was at least in control of the house in which they were found… We consider it highly inappropriate in these circumstances to uphold a conviction of constructive possession of the firearms with which A- 4 is not shown to have had any connection or control.”

Read the Judgment Here

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