In a recent ruling, the Madras Bench of the Madras High Court has made it clear that there is no fundamental right in India to possess firearms. The judgement came as a response to a petition filed by a businessman from Tirunelveli in 2015, who was seeking a gun license after his application had been rejected.
Background of the Case
Ahamed Mohideen, the petitioner, had sought a gun license under the pretext that he frequently carried substantial amounts of cash for business purposes and believed he needed a firearm for self-protection. He believed that owning a gun would enhance his safety while dealing with large sums of money.
Absence of a Fundamental Right
Justice GR Swaminathan, delivering the verdict, emphasised that India does not recognise a fundamental right to bear arms, unlike the United States. The judge underscored that obtaining a gun license is not a matter of right; it cannot be granted solely on request. The judiciary can only consider issuing a gun license if it is established that the petitioner’s life is under a credible and severe threat.
Importance of Threat Assessment
The judge highlighted that the key factor in deciding the issuance of a gun license is the level of threat an individual faces. In this case, the court determined that the petitioner’s life was not in grave danger, and the sole basis for his application was his involvement in cash transactions.
Verdict and Implications
The Madras High Court’s ruling emphasises that the right to possess firearms is subject to stringent conditions and threat evaluation. The verdict sends a clear message that the mere possession of large amounts of cash does not automatically qualify an individual for a gun license. Instead, the authorities must perceive a significant and legitimate threat to the applicant’s life to consider granting such a license.
This judgement underscores the nuanced approach India takes towards the ownership of firearms and its prioritisation of public safety. It also highlights the need for individuals seeking gun licenses to establish a credible basis for their application, rooted in genuine security concerns.
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