Introduction – Knife Laws
“A knife is only as good as the one who wields it”, Knives have been a part of the rise of the human race and have evolved during the course of human history, as useful tools. Early man used knives as a tool for self-defense, to hunt, to cook and for carpentry. From the short tempered young men in Romeo and Juliet to the stabbing of Julius Caesar, Shakespearian plays give us a glimpse of the actual conditions prevailing in medieval Europe, where carrying a dagger was fashionable but often lead to disaster and tragedy. Taking into consideration the dangerous aspects of violence which arise from the roots of carrying, possessing, or holding dangerous weapons, authorities have restricted people from using it for offensive purposes by creating rules and regulations governing arms and ammunitions. This article briefly discusses the knife laws in India.
ORIGIN OF KNIFE REGULATIONS
The history of Knife Laws trace back to the southern states of USA, which was enforced in order to prevent dueling and violent sports played for the purpose of entertainment. In the early 19 th century knives were used to settle quarrels and disputes, which lead to widespread bloodshed. After the American Civil War the laws regarding purchase and possession of arms became draconian due to fear of weapon possessed by certain racial groups, like African-American and Hispanic Americans. In Texas the restrictive law passed on April 12, 1871 by Texas Reconstruction Legislature can be considered as the ancestor of the present law restricting purchase, possession and use of knife.
Identifying that arms and ammunitions are the roots giving rise to the tree of cruelty, bloodshed, violence and savagery, the Indian Government brought out The Arms Act (1956) to regulate the sale, purchase, license and use of weapons. This Act defines Arms as “articles of any description designed or adapted as weapons for offence or defense, and includes firearms, sharpedge and other deadly weapons, and parts of machinery for manufacturing, arms but does not include articles solely designed for domestic or agricultural purposes.”
The rules present in Arms Rule, 1969 read along with section 4 of the Arms Act, 1959 states that a person should not by any way acquire, posses, sell and use arms or firearms where by the said object is sharpeged and deadly by its very nature such as swords (counting sword sticks as well), daggers, bayonets, spears (includes lances and javelins), battle-axes, knives (with reference to Kirpans and Khukeris also) or any other arms whereby such arm has a blade longer than 9 Inches and wider than 2 Inches for any other purpose other than the purpose of domestic, agricultural, scientific and industrial purposes.
Knives and Religion in India
Our Sikh brothers and sister wear a Kirpan along with their traditional attire. Sikhism is a religion which originated from the northern area of the Indian subcontinent, people following this religion have a unique, vibrant and distinct cultural identity which they practice, preach and propagate through their traditions. For baptized Sikhs it is a necessity to carry the following five items as articles of faith:-
1} Kesh – Uncut long hair is considered to be an indispensible part of human body by the Sikhs.The turban is a spiritual diadem, reminding them that they are to live according to Sikh principles
2} Kanga – A small wooden comb, which is a symbol of accepting what god has given along with maintaining it
3} Kara – The steel bracelet is a symbol of permanent bonding to the Sikh community
4} Kachera – Symbolizes self-respect, it consists of undershorts
5} Kirpan – A knife, sword or dagger represents bravery that is used, to protect the weak and innocent from peril. It is extracted from the words Kirpa and Ana, respectively meaning an act of kindness and self-respect.
The Constitution of India grants special permission for Sikhs to posses and carry the Kirpan under Article 25 (2) (b) Explanation I, which contents that “The wearing and carrying of kirpans shall be deemed to be included in the profession of the Sikh religion”. Further it has been elaborated by Indian Legislation that Sikhs or any person who manufactures and sells Kirpan without the permission of the Government, is liable to be punished.
Punishments for using, intimidating or threatening with help of a knife
A charge under the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC), 1973 can be put, if a person uses knives in a manner so as to disturb or disrupts peace of public, to develop or cause a fearful atmosphere. Under the Section 425 of Indian Penal Code (IPC), the use of arms by any person who shows it, threatens using it or uses the aforementioned acts to gain undue advantage without having the intent of harming another person or group of persons can be charged. If any act involving blades and knives creates a situation of public nuisance, then the person behind it can be charged under Section 268 of Indian Penal Code (IPC).
In India generally, knife laws are not very comprehensive, people are not allowed to carry arms in public places (Exceptions being Sikhs, who can carry Kirpan), arms here include items under the prohibited list of the Indian Arms Act, 1959. State Governments have the power to add “things which could be used as weapons” into the category of Prohibited Arms, by releasing an official Notification. No specific regulation is present pertaining to Knives and it is regulated by the Indian Arms Act, Arms Rule, CrPC, and IPC. For parties interested in carrying Knives, sale and purchase of Knives they will have to obtain a license for the same.