Taser and Stun Guns in India: Are they legal?

By Aditya Pratap, Lawyer in Bombay High Court

Taser guns and Stun guns are often confused for one another. A Stun gun is essentially a close proximity self defence device that uses high-voltage electricity to stop an attacker. It is a non lethal weapon that momentarily disables muscle control.

Whereas Taser guns are devices which when used it shoots two metal probe darts to a distance of 15-20 feet to reach an attacker before he reaches you. It sends an electric shock and immobilizes the attacker without causing grievous hurt. 

Legality of Stun Guns

It’s a common myth that the use and possession of stun guns are banned and illegal in India, which is completely untrue. Stun Guns are actually considered as “less lethal weapons” in India, and the possession and use of these stun guns is absolutely legal. In fact on account of the increase in crimes committed against women, the Government allows women to carry pepper sprays, stun guns and many such “less lethal weapons” for the purposes of self defence.

However the unnecessary use of stun guns can attract charges of battery as given under Section 350 of the Indian Penal Code. The offence of battery is punishable under Section 352 of the Indian Penal Code and provides imprisonment which is extendible to 3 months or fine of five hundred rupees or both.

The excessive use of Stun guns can cause death and hence proper training before the purchase of stun guns is essential.

Taser Guns under the Arms Act

Laws regarding the possession, use and licensing of taser guns are regularised under the Indian Arms Act. 

Section 2 (i) of the arms act defines “prohibited arms” as-

(ii) weapons of any description designed or adapted for the discharge of any noxious liquid, gas or other such thing,

Section 7 of the Arms Act Prohibits acquisition or possession, or manufacture or sale of prohibited arms or prohibited ammunition. ―No person shall―

(a) acquire, have in his possession or carry;

any prohibited arms or prohibited ammunition unless he has been specially authorised by the Central Government in this behalf.

Section 25 (1A)

“Whoever acquires, has in his possession or carries any prohibited arms or prohibited ammunition in contravention of section 7 shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than five years, but which may extend to ten years and shall also be liable to fine.”

As per the Indian Arms Act, Taser guns are considered to be ‘prohibited arms’. The possession of arms and weapons which pose as a threat to public peace and security are prohibited. The use of Taser Guns by civilians is  strictly prohibited.

In fact possession, sale, manufacture, transfers, converts, repairs or use of Taser guns is banned and can result in heavy fines or imprisonment or both. As per Indian law, the possession and use of Taser guns without authorisation is considered as an assault which is a punishable offence.

Only licensed police officials and NSGs are permitted to use Taser guns, that too only when found reasonable in the eyes of law.

License to use Taser Guns 

India’s strict gun laws, makes it very challenging to obtain a taser gun license. Licenses for the Use of taser Guns are primarily granted only to Police Officials, NSGs and any family member of a Government officials (past or present) who for known or unknown reasons are exposed to anticipated life risks.Other person may also, for any legitimate and genuine reason, apply for a license. However in this case the licensing authority, after conducting a separate verification from its own source, upon its discretion decide by itself whether the applicant requires such a licence or not. The grant of license in this case is extremely rare. 

Gujarat the first state to be equipped with taser guns

After extensive researching and evaluation of Taser Guns, Gujarat became the first major police agency to introduce taser guns as a part of their modernisation drive to ensures public safety and security. The police department who is often criticised for the use of excessive force stated that   “Taser guns have been introduced to find an alternative between ‘ineffective lathis’ and ‘deadly guns’.”The deployment of Taser guns has has increased police and civilian safety during violent outbreaks. It has proven to be an effective and humane way of curbing violence.

Conclusion

The use and possession of stun guns in India is legal. However, if purchased they must be used carefully as any misuse could be a gateway to numerous law suits. 

As for Taser guns, the use of these guns without a legitimate license is illegal and in fact a criminal offence. Only police officials and licensed persons have the authority to use Taser guns in India. This authority is again subjected to numerous limitations. It is only used to subdue violence rather than inflicting punishment or pain.

About the Author – Aditya Pratap

Aditya Pratap is a lawyer practising in Mumbai. He argues cases in the Bombay High Court, Sessions and Magistrate Courts, along with appearances before RERA, NCLT and the Family Court. For further information one may visit his website adityapratap.in or view his YouTube Channel to see his interviews. Questions can be emailed to him at aditya@adityapratap.com.

This Article is made by Aditya Pratap in assistance with Karthyayani Amblimath.

Cases argued by Aditya Pratap can be viewed here.

Disclaimer: Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication at the time it was written. It is not intended to provide legal advice or suggest a guaranteed outcome as individual situations will differ and the law may have changed since publication. Readers considering legal action should consult with an experienced lawyer to understand current laws and how they may affect a case.

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