Laws governing a Knife
According to the case reports published by different authors, it is an understanding that knives or arms, in general, have its origin in the process of human evolution, the invention of these arms were made by humans for the purpose of hunting and self-defence. Knives from a long time have been part of the country’s culture it has been in the country in various sects or groups as the country now limited by the boundaries geographically but once was the land divided into the various kingdom.
As the speedy progress of humanity and the growth of civilization, it became necessary to introduce laws regulating actions of the human being in society. The laws introduced in the societies by various scholars understanding the righteousness to be practised by the mankind made some action void or illegal, such actions were against the mankind, and it would result in disrupting the harmony of the society. The early end of kingships led into different revolution altogether resulting in the forming of the government. This administration was based on different philosophies and ideologies, realizing the contemplation of the world to make a better place. These authorities were formed according to the legislation for its incorporation and also derived their powers from such legislations.
The authorities were further subdivided into three parts forming the pillars on which the harmony and progress of the state will rely on, and the pillars were given authorities to make rules and regulation, to implement and watch the rules and regulation with nexus sought to be achieved for the state. It became a priority for the authorities to implement laws that were to be followed obediently, violating those would incur punishment for the person committing such an act. Many rules were written in terms of heinous crimes against mankind and were made punishable, and it came to the state’s attention that there is a need to invent legislation controlling the roots of this tree whose branches culminated into fruits of violation and brutality.
The ingredients involved- arms and ammunition to such brutality, the government understanding an urgent need to legislate the arms and its use by people or citizens of the land. Various countries made rules in this behalf according to the nature and objective the state wants to achieve through these rules. In India, as the country’s origin from the times of the British rules, modernization and literacy found its right characters in the land of scholars who decided to regulate brutal actions against mankind to be a punishable crime and legislated a charter of law enforceable by the authority to be known as Arms Act, 1959.
History of Knives Legislation
The history of knives legislation finds its origin mostly in the southern states of the United States of America, and the regulation introduced was in prohibitive nature to eliminate the use of the knife for dueling and other deadly sports between men for the purpose of entertainment.The rules made thereunder were different according to the type of knives considering the deadly nature. The knives in the early 19th century were used in the west for much reason including settlement of the dispute and other quarrels regarding land disputes among gang members. To eliminate these casual ways of settling disputes by means of killing increased on a large scale where it became a priority to curb and eliminate this practice, it was made illegal bypassing law in this behalf. This law took a major turn after the Civil War in the USA; the laws were made more stringent with regards to purchasing and possession of the knives and other arms.
The law controlling the possession and use of the arms was first introduced in the year 1878 after the first uprising in the year 1857 but the laws made in the year arbitrarily allowed the sovereign to regulate the use of an arm at their own peril. After independence, it needed to create such rules that would require the government to meet its objective.
In the year 1959, the Government of India passed an Act, i.e. The Arms Act, 1959to legislate the acquisition, possession, use and disposal of arms in India in the late 50’s by studying the use of the arms and its use during the period of the British rule in India. The scholars in the country realized the grievous effects of the use of arm.
Legislation regulating Knives
In India, the arms and ammunition are regulated by the legislation passed by the parliament known as the Arms Act, 1959 and Arms Rule, 1962. According to the provision specified and rules in this behalf states that any person who is a law-abiding citizen will be allowed to have possession of the arms by the procedure established by the law. The provision incorporated was in effect from the year 1962, though such right to possess the firearms was not made the fundamental right but was accepted in the eye of law. This Act was enforced with the aim to regulate the use of arms and eliminate the trade and use of the illegal weapon. The rule states that any person under section 4 of the Arms Act, 1956 read with rules in Arms Rule, 1962 should not by any way acquire, possess, sale and use any arm or firearm whereby such arm is sharp edged and deadly by its very nature such as swords (including sword sticks), Dagger, Bayonets, spears (including lances and javelins), battle-axes, Knives (including Kirpan and khukeris) or any other arms whereby such arm has a blade which 9” longer and has wide breadth up to 2” broader for any purpose other than the purpose of domestic, agricultural, scientific, Industrial purposes, steel baton and all other weapons which are termed as “Life Preservers machinery used for making arms category other than 3 and any other weapon notified by the Central Government under section 4.
The use of knives in the way used or if such knives result in creating a disturbance or ruptures in any way the public tranquility, peace or if such piece of weapon creates an environment of fear would also be charged under the Criminal Procedure Code, 1973.
The use of any other weapon by any person by way of showing it or threatening it or to gain any undue advantage even without the intent of harming such person or group of such persons will be charged under section 425 of the Indian Penal Code.
Such a person will also be held liable under section 268 of the Indian Penal Code under an act of public nuisance if such blade or knives creates such a situation. According to various laws made under the Indian legislatures, such as Indian Penal Code, 1860 and Criminal Procedure Code, 1973.
Types of Knives
There is a list of knives mentioned in the list or schedules under the Arms Rules, 1962 that specifically mentioned and prohibited by the Government following:
1. Swords:The long metal bladeconsists of sharp edges sometimes on the inner and outer edges use of thrusting and attacking with force to cause an injury to someone in the act of war.This head in the rules also prohibits the swords sticks which are basically a walking stick or any stick mainly having a wooden covering from outside and blade or sword inside. Such sticks basically look like a walking stick.
2. Dagger:Dagger is typically a small knife which is used for stabbing some because of its double-edged sharpness on both the side of the metal blade makes a perfect knife for causing serious injury to person or animal.
3. Bayonets: The Bayonets are the type of knives that are typically seen on the rifle, it was majorly used by the armies or land warriors where they used this knife at the time for their defence. Such knives are now prohibited by the government.
4. Spears: A pointed blade used by the warriors that are made in way to cut the pressure of the air so as to hit the target by throwing it from a distance. It also tied or affixed to a wooden bamboo to kill someone at a distance.
Kirpans in India
A kirpan is a sword or knife that has special permission given by the Constitution of India, Article 25(2) (b) of the Constitution of India allows the carriage of Kirpan by the person who identifies himself/herself as Sikhs. As secularism forms an inevitable part of the Indian Constitution that provides to recognize the land will practice no religion symbolically of the country but such every religion will be accorded with the same reverence as to any other religion without any distinct nature of minority or majority. Further, the article also states that every person will be allowed and is free to practice, propagate and profess about his religion and recognizes every religion in its entirety with no modifications unless necessary.
Sikhs is one sect people originally from the northern part of the Indian Subcontinent. As per the Sikhism, tradition is practised, and it is vitally important for the people of this sect to follow the cultural identity in the way they practice, profess and propagate their religion. There is in a total of five articles compulsory as per the Sikh ideology to wear in a way to justice the religious necessity such as:
1. Haircovered by the turban.
2. Kara (a steel bracelet)
3. Kanga (a small wooden comb)
4. Kacchera (undershorts)
5. Kirpan (a small knife or sword)
A Kirpan is basically an article of faith in the Sikhism, and the word Kirpan has derived from two words, i.e. Kirpa and Aan, that literally means an act of kindness and self-respect respectively. This is symbolic of a belief that every person practising Sikhism should be generous and should always be protecting his/her self-respect. In Sikhism, the Kirpan has no specific size or requirement it depends upon the person who carries the Kirpan except it’s should sheathe and worn with a strap.
The Indian legislation, regulates the rules and regulation for the Kirpan, such that the Sikh or by any person without the authority of the Government or by any provision of the law will not be allowed to manufacture and sale the Kirpan. Though the word Kirpan has not been defined in the Arms Act but such arm will be included in the meaning of the sword. Under the precedence set by the Magistrate Court in,The Crown v/s Basta Singh, (1922) I.L.R III Lah. 437 wherein a Sikh was arrested under the charge of manufacturing and sale of Kirpan under section 19 (a) of Arms Act and presented before the Magistrate where the person arrested was released by the Magistrate by stating the reason that as per schedule 2 of the Arms Rules, a person identifying himself as Sikh will be allowed an exemption from prohibition regarding the manufacturing and sale of Kirpan. According to the new rules, any person though allowed to carry Kirpan in as an exception to the rule of carrying a knife in the country has limited and regulated with reference to its and size and shape.
Self- Defense legislation in India
An act of self-defence can be said as an act to protect oneself from any person willing to or by committing such an act which may result in the one’s death. The pardoning for any act where the person seriously injures or sometimes such injuries led to the death of that person came in the society in the medieval period, at such time to pardon such action it was at the sole discretion of the King. This was an attempt made by the administration and scholar who developed a sense of common understanding of the revolt of humanity against such crimes. In the case of the Brown v/s United States of America, Justice Holmes stated that it would more grievous crime committed by the states if such person would in turn for saving his life commits any action or cause any injury to a person willing to kill, would be allowed a pardon by the court of law. The principle of the uplifted knife is to be understood in the context of protection from such attacks but then such decision will be on the sole discretion of the court and might differ depending on the facts of the case.
In India, action of self-defence is considered as rightful action against the crimes that take place against mankind, it is governed by the Indian Penal Code. The IPC under sections 96 -106 covers the act of self-defence, there is various interpretation of a situation where acting to save one’s life would be a timely demand and committing any action pursued immediately in the phases of terror would be allowed a pardon. Such consideration based on the principle of “Necessity Knows No Law” it specifically states that if a situation arises were following a legal procedure to save his/her life would be terrible or delayed choice of action then such person can commit such act to mitigate the loss that will be caused to him/her, in turn, if such situation turns fatal then the court will have sole discretion depending on the facts of the case and evidence presented to recognize the eligibility of the action by an individual for pardon.
Though such action is due for pardon by the court carrying knife for such act is prohibited, the law states that any person carrying any arm or knife for such reason which does not comply with the requirement with regards to its shape and size will not be allowed for any such reason.
The Act states that any person in India will not be allowed to carry a knife which more the 9” long metal blade and 2” wide in size and such knife should be fancy in the way to be threatened by the public at large.
In the case of Malti Devi Singh & Others v/s The State of Uttar Pradesh, whereby the accuser’s conviction of causing injury to the respondent while acting in self-defence was considered by the court under the principle of the uplifted knife, the court set aside the order of the lower court for the appellant’s conviction provided a legal theory by an eminent jurist the Justice Holmes who stated that “a detached reflection cannot be demanded in the presences of an uplifted knife, the appellant.
In India the parliament has enlisted detailed laws regulating the states and action of citizens, in the above article, it was discussed at length various rules formed with due consideration for the use of arms. As the development is a concern, it is important to maintain the harmony of the state as the paramount interest of the administration, where any kind of fatal contemplation has to be avoided by way of legislating its use and other aspects relating to the commodity. The Indian legislature promulgates fairly codified provision enforceable in the country regulating the all the aspects of arms and ammunition. As this article discusses at lengththe permission to carry a knife with due consideration to the laws and provides a brief about the curtailment of the usage of knives. The rationale provided for prohibition suggests the procuring step in understanding the future recourse regarding such arms, as amendment still suggest the adaptability of the Act to limit the use of arms, for any purpose other than the qualified use as recognized by the states.
The article mainly covers the aspect of usage of Knives with its exception in recognizing the need to curb the sale and usage of it in any other illegal ways or for such purpose which is with intent to disrupt the public tranquility. The article also includes the exception provided by the state in this behalf and illustrates the understanding with regards to the case laws emphasizing that every exception has its onus upon the person who pursues such exception or requires the exceptional context to be considered for use that is in violation of the stated provision.
Lastly, it clears the understanding that the use of knives in any way has been prohibited by the Arms Act, 1959 read with Arms Rule, 1962, further the act in itself require a modification many aspects, but it may stay stringent with the rules made regulating the manufacture, sale, possession, use and trade in the way of the knife.
The author of this blog/Article is Kishan Dutt Kalaskar, a Retired Judge and practising advocate having an experience of 35+ years in handling different legal matters. He has prepared and got published Head Notes for more than 10,000 Judgments of the Supreme Court and High Courts in different Law Journals. From his experience he wants to share this beneficial information for the individuals having any issues with respect to their related matters .
Kishan Dutt Kalaskar
Advocate (Retired Judge)
No.74, 1st Floor, 6th Cross,
Please enter the text