Celebratory firings illegal, arms licences may get cancelled, police tells HC

New Delhi, Nov 2 (IANS) Firing in the air while celebrating marriages, religious functions or social gatherings is illegal and may result in the cancellation of the licence and initiation of legal action, Delhi Police told the High Court on Wednesday.

A division bench headed by Chief Justice G. Rohini was told by Delhi Police’s Arms Licensing Unit that it takes prompt and certain action against offenders on receipt of any complaint of misuse of the firearms.

The firearm licences are issued for self-protection or security under the Arms Act, 1959.

“There are already adequate legal provisions to regulate any such incidents,” said an affidavit filed by police on a public interest litigation seeking directions to frame a stringent policy or guidelines to curb “obnoxious practice of celebratory firing”.

The PIL was filed by Shyam Sunder Kaushal, whose 17-year-old daughter died in April 2016 in celebratory firing during a marriage procession.

Kaushal said the obnoxious practice of celebratory firing is not under check and consequently the number of deaths on this count are increasing.

The police affidavit said that as per the records available, approximately “90 firearm licences have been cancelled due to involvement in criminal cases in two years but that there is no separate record regarding cancellation of arms licences due to celebratory firing”.

The petitioner has sought direction for the Home Ministry to evolve a robust mechanism to ensure these licences are not misused and to cancel the licences of offenders.

He also sought direction to the ministry to “impose heavy fine on person who misused his licensed firearm and compensation to injured person(s) or person(s) who died because of celebratory firing”.

The petitioner said that “carrying a gun in a marriage procession is illegal under the Arms Act of 1959 and the Indian Penal Code of 1860 while the terms of licence also forbade carrying of gun to public assemblage”.