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Tuesday, May 30, 2023

SC Concerned over crimes with illegal weapons, asks for state reports

After getting feedback from some states on the number of cases involving illegal weapons, the court expressed its concern on April 13.

It had asked all states and Union territories to report the crimes committed with unlicensed firearms and the measures taken by them to curb the problem.

The judges KM Joseph and BV Nagarathna noted that the northern states of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Punjab and others had a high rate of crime with illegal weapons. Tamil Nadu was the only state among those who responded that did not report any case of illegal arms.

The bench said to lawyer Rajat Nair representing the Centre, “This is a serious issue.” It added, “The government has to make it a harsh offence or else people will be arrested under Arms Act frequently.”


The Arms Act prescribes a minimum punishment of three years and a maximum of seven years for using illegal or unlicensed arms in crime.

The bench compared the situation with the United States where many people have gone on shooting rampages in malls and schools causing deaths. The bench said, “See how the US is suffering. They have a basic right to own arms. We don’t have that right and still we are suffering. It is a grave matter.”

Nair said that changing the law may need consultation with states as law and order is their responsibility. The bench asked if the use of unlicensed weapons in northern states was similar to south and northeast.

S Nagamuthu, a senior lawyer helping the court as amicus curiae, said that this could be known only after getting feedback from all states/UTs.


The bench said that a comprehensive study on the socio-economic factors that drive the demand for such illegal arms was needed. Nagamuthu and his associate Anish R Shah agreed to undertake this task.

The court was hearing a case from Uttar Pradesh where Rajendra Singh had killed a person with an unlicensed weapon. He had moved the top court after the Allahabad high court denied him bail.

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