Data submitted by states in SC shows ‘alarming’ rise of illegal arms | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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Data submitted by states in SC shows ‘alarming’ rise of illegal arms

ht_print | ByAbraham Thomas
Nov 01, 2023 09:20 PM IST

The data shows the problem to be acute in states such as Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Haryana, Rajasthan, and Madhya Pradesh

Proliferation of illegal arms and ammunition has assumed “alarming” proportions in some states, a report submitted to the Supreme Court on Tuesday said while seeking urgent and innovative steps to be taken by the Centre and state governments to curb the menace.

The Supreme Court in April directed states to inform about the number of cases involving illegal arms recorded by the police in the recent past and wished to know the steps being taken to address the issue. (File Photo)
The Supreme Court in April directed states to inform about the number of cases involving illegal arms recorded by the police in the recent past and wished to know the steps being taken to address the issue. (File Photo)

The report, a compilation of data received from states, was filed by senior advocate S Nagamuthu, who is assisting the court as amicus curiae in a suo moto matter heard by the top court over the problem of increasing crimes involving unlicensed weapons and country made arms. In April, the court had directed states to inform about the number of cases involving illegal arms recorded by police in the recent past and wished to know the steps being taken to address the issue.

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Nagamuthu said, “It emerges from these affidavits that proliferation of illegal arms and ammunition is not only prevalent, but the authorities are struggling to curb the same.”

“The situation is alarming,” added the report, finding the problem to be acute in states such as Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Haryana, Rajasthan, and Madhya Pradesh where the reported seizure of illegal weapons was on the rise with each successive year. He attributed it due to the prevalence of rowdyism or extremism.

The most startling results came from Haryana, which reported more than 34,000 cases of illegal arms and unlicensed weapons in the past decade (2013 to 2022). In the past five years, the state police recovered nearly 13,000 illegal pistols and about 4,000 country made pistols or katta.

In UP, the problem was found to be equally serious with the number of registered crimes involving seizure of illegal weapons showing a jump of 10,000 cases from 13,395 in 2013 to 24,514 by 2020. Last year, the state tally of illegal weapons cases breached the 25,600 mark.

Rajasthan reported more than 7,000 cases of illegal/unlicensed firearms with the incidents increasing progressively from 1,872 in year 2020 to 1,835 in 2021 and 2,100 last year. This year, till June, the state recorded 1,335 cases of illegal firearms.

In Bihar, the state government discovered 91 illegal firearm manufacturing units in Munger district between 2017 and 2022. Last year, the police seized 4,188 illegal weapons as compared to 4,021 in the year 2021 and 3,166 in 2020.

A bench of justices BV Nagarathna and SVN Bhatti on Tuesday went through the report and sought response from Centre and states on the recommendations made by Nagamuthu.

The report said, “It is high time for the government of India and states to put their heads together to evolve innovative steps/methods involving science and technology to eradicate the illegal arms and ammunition from Indian soil. If such innovative steps/methods are not evolved at the earliest on a war footing, I am afraid that the situation may go out of control.”

In none of the affidavits, the amicus felt any effective steps being taken by those states where the situation is alarming. “This gives an impression that the States and Union Territories have not taken the issue very seriously as is expected of them... Only age-old and orthodox methods, which can never match with the proportion and velocity of the crimes committed by the miscreants, are being continued by the agencies. The mindset of the shareholders, therefore, requires changes.”

He suggested some concrete changes in certain procedural aspects, such as investigation, inquiry, and trial, including the bail provisions for offences under the Arms Act, Explosives Act, and Explosives Substances Act.

The amicus also proposed forming a Committee of Experts to make a thorough study of various inputs obtained from the states and Centre and make recommendations about the steps to be taken in future to curb the proliferation of illegal arms and ammunition. In addition, he suggested that the Law Commission of India can be requested to suggest stringent provisions either in the existing laws, or in the laws to be made, mainly in the matter of procedure for investigation, inquiry and trial, within a time-bound manner.

In September, the Centre had proposed some steps to curb use of illegal firearms that included digitally linking arms manufacturers and dealers, besides maintaining online record of ballistic reports to aid in criminal investigations, regulation of orders placed online for arms, mandatory marking on each weapon by manufacturers for purposes of tracing and identification, among other steps.

The use of illegal or unlicensed arms in commission of crime is punishable under the Arms Act with a sentence ranging from three to seven years.

The matter attracted the court’s attention while dealing with a bail petition by one Rajendra Singh, involved in murdering a man with an unlicensed gun in Uttar Pradesh. The court expanded the scope of the petition as it had observed that the case at hand was becoming a “real problem” in many states.

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