Tribune News Service
New Delhi, December 9
The Lok Sabha on Monday passed the Arms (Amendment) Bill, 2019 to enhance punishment for existing offences like illegal manufacture, sale, transfer of weapons.
The provisions related to ownership of arms by sportspersons, retired and serving armed forces personnel under the Arms Act 1959 remain unaffected by the Amendment.
Home Minister Amit Shah said it ensures that those using firearms in a rash or negligent manner in celebratory gunfire, endangering human life or personal safety of others, shall be punishable with an imprisonment to two years. Shah said the Bill has been brought as a requirement to significantly impose weapons control in the country.
Under the new provisions, a person can have a maximum of two firearms, as against the present norm of three. The government moved an official amendment allowing two firearms, the original Bill allowed only one firearm.
As per the Bill, those who own more than two firearms will have to deposit the third one with authorities or authorised gun dealers within 90 days for de-licensing once the amendment is approved by Parliament.
The Bill has a provision for life imprisonment for those who snatch or loot arms and ammunition from police or defence forces. The Bill seeks to enhance punishment for illegally possessing and making prohibited arms, besides other changes in the six-decade-old Arms Act.
As per the Bill, the government proposes to amend Section 25 (1AA) of the Arms Act, 1959, to give punishment from the usual life term of 14 years to “imprisonment for the remainder of that person’s life” for manufacturing, selling, repairing and possessing “prohibited” arms. The minimum punishment under this section will be 14 years.
Under the present law, the offence invites imprisonment of not less than seven years but may extend to life imprisonment—mostly up to 14 years.
According to an estimate, India has a total of around 35 lakh gun licences. Thirteen lakh people have licences to carry weapons in UP, followed by militancy-hit Jammu and Kashmir, where 3.7 lakh people possess arms licences, most of which were taken in the name of personal security.
Punjab, which witnessed terrorism in 1980s and 1990s, has around 3.6 lakh active gun licences, most of which were issued during the two decades of strife.
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