17 May 2023 5:31 AM GMT
The Supreme Court, on Tuesday(May 16), asked the State Governments and Union Territories to file their response in the suo motu case registered by it to curb the large number of possession and use of unlicensed firearms in the country.A Bench comprising Justice KM Joseph and Justice BV Nagarathna was apprised that States of Manipur and Nagaland are yet to be served in the matter. Considering...
The Supreme Court, on Tuesday(May 16), asked the State Governments and Union Territories to file their response in the suo motu case registered by it to curb the large number of possession and use of unlicensed firearms in the country.
A Bench comprising Justice KM Joseph and Justice BV Nagarathna was apprised that States of Manipur and Nagaland are yet to be served in the matter. Considering the same, it asked the Supreme Court Registry to take necessary steps. It directed the matter to be next listed on 7th August, 2023.
At the outset the Counsel appearing for the Union Government apprised the Bench that it would need some time to file its response. Justice Joseph asked the Counsel what the Union Government intends to do in order to curb the use of illegal firearms. The Counsel told the Judge that the instructions have been sought in this regard. He submitted that Parliament had already passed a law in this regard. However, he added that since it is a State subject the State Governments are to ensure that the law is complied with.
Justice Joseph indicated that some legislative change might be required considering the widespread use of illegal firearms. He said, “It is becoming a real problem”. The Counsel appearing for the Union Government submitted that in order to make legislative change a larger consultation would be required. Justice Joseph suggested that the offence of possession and use of unlicensed firearms can be made a more serious offence; or some other policy can be devised in order to prevent such a phenomenon.
Senior Advocate, S. Nagamuthu, Amicus Curiae submitted, “Arms Act has almost become redundant. Some act has to be brought in.”
Justice Joseph asked him, “What is that you will suggest?”
The Amicus responded that he would await the response of the State Governments and the Union Territories.
The Counsel appearing for the State of Goa sought some time to file its affidavit. Justice Joseph enquired, “In Goa do you have this same phenomenon?”. To this the Counsel responded, “It would be difficult for me to say that there are no unlicensed arms”. The Judge reckoned, “But not on the scale that you have in North India…Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Punjab.”
A Counsel apprised the Bench that the illegal firearms are manufactured and smuggled across the country. He submitted, “It is not that it is manufactured in one place. It can be Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Bihar. It is smuggled across the country. It is not that it is only in Bihar and Uttar Pradesh. We have a problem of illegal firearms throughout the country.”
Justice Nagarathna stated that in order to curb use of unlicensed firearms socio-economic reasons for the demand of the illegal arms in each State has to be gone into.
“You’ll have to go into the socio-economic reasons in each State - why is there a demand for such kinds of illegal arms.”
Justice Joseph reckoned, “For the next generation you should not have this (possession and use of illegal firearms).”
He added -
“Look at the US. How they are suffering because it is in their fundamental right. We don’t have it but still we are suffering…There is rampant use of illegal arms. Anyone can be shot dead.”
[Case Title: Rajendra Singh v. State of UP MA 393/2023 in SLP(Crl) No. 12831/2022]