One does not have a fundamental right to keep a weapon and its possession nowadays is more for “showing off” as a “status symbol” than for self defence, the Delhi High Court has said. The observation by Justice Sanjeev Sachdeva came while rejecting a private company official’s plea for an arms licence, a request which was denied to him by the licensing authority of the police as well as the Lieutenant Governor (LG). Upholding the decisions of the licensing authority and the LG, the court said, “We are not living in a lawless society where individuals have to acquire or hold arms to protect themselves.”
It said that the object of the Arms Act was to ensure that weapons are available to citizens for self defence, but it “does not mean that every individual should be given a licence” to possess a weapon. “The object of the Act is self-defence. The grant of Arms license is a privilege conferred by the Act. There is no fundamental right of an individual to hold an arm (weapon).
“Possession of arms today has become a status symbol. Individuals seek to possess arms mostly for the purposes of showing off that they are influential people. Arms are even being used indiscriminately for celebratory firing at marriages etc.,” the court said. The petitioner had sought an arms licence on the ground that he daily deals with cash ranging between Rs 2-3 lakh and needs a weapon for his safety and to secure the money.
The court rejected the contention, saying that the cash belonged to the company and if there was any need to protect the money, the company would have taken the requisite measures. “The amount of cash mentioned by the petitioner is only about Rs 2-3 lakh a day. Merely because an individual deals with cash of Rs 2-3 lakh a day and that also of a third party does not by itself show that there is any threat to that individual,” the court said.
The same view was expressed by the LG while rejecting the man’s plea for an arms licence. The court said the petitioner has not shown any circumstance that could create a perception that there is a threat to his life. “License to hold an arm is to be granted where there is a necessity for the same and not merely at the asking of an individual at his whims and fancies,” the court said.