Read Order: Mrs. Dr. Leena Ashay Nandeshwar v. The State of Maharashtra and ors

Tulip Kanth

Mumbai, June 20, 2022: The Bombay High Court has quashed the proceedings against the accused-petitioner under sections 3 and 25 of the Indian Arms Act, 1959, after observing that possession of the live cartridge in the hand bag of the petitioner was not a conscious possession of the live cartridge and there was also absence of recovery of the fire arm/weapon.

Referring to the mandate under section 3, the Division Bench of Justices S.S.Shinde and Milind N. Jadhav asserted, Further for the applicability of the provisions of section 3 of the said Act possession of the live cartridge needs to be established as being in conscious possession of the Petitioner and that the Petitioner had knowledge of the same being carried in her hand bag.”

In this case, the accused-petitioner, an Ayurvedic doctor, was travelling to Kochi along with her husband and children and during the security check at the Airport one live cartridge was detected and recovered from her hand baggage. She informed that she had no knowledge as to how the alleged live cartridge was found in her bag and at that stated that the same could pertain to the toy gun of her daughter who might have put it in the bag while playing. Also, apart from the live cartridge no firearm or weapon was recovered from her bag. After, the FIR was registered, the petitioner was arrested but later granted bail. Thus, this petition was filed to quash the proceedings which were pending on the file of Metropolitan Magistrate.

Referring to the judgment of the Top Court in Sanjay Dutt Vs. State through C.B.I., Bombay (II) wherein it has been opined that mere custody without awareness of the nature of such possession cannot fall within the ambit of sections 3 and 25, the Bench noted that there was no other material or evidence collected by the prosecution so as to indict the Petitioner of having conscious possession of the live cartridge. 

The Bench also reiterated that only the live cartridge having been found, there was no recovery of any weapon or any firearm from the baggage of the Petitioner. Thus, considering that the possession of the live cartridge in the hand bag of the Petitioner could not be to mean that she was in conscious possession of the live cartridge and further in the absence of recovery of the fire arm / weapon, the Bench held that the benefit of doubt needed to be given to the Petitioner. Directing that the bail bond should be refunded, the Bench quashed the proceedings.

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