1. This is an appeal by the Local Government against the acquittal of one Bhopal Singh alias Bhopa who was charged with an offence under the Arms Act. This man's house had been searched in connexion with a dacoity and four blank cartridges and two lead bullets had been found in his possession. He was immediately arrested, the date being 11th November 1934. He was sent to prison and was convicted by a Magistrate on 4th March 1935, of this offence under the Arms Act, namely, the offence of keeping ammunition in his possession and was sentenced to rigorous imprisonment for a period of two years and to a fine of Rs. 25. On the same date he was committed to the Court of Session on a charge of dacoity. The learned Sessions Judge decided the appeal against the conviction under the Arms Act on 4th July 1935, and acquitted the appellant. The learned Judge found that it was true that he had been in possession of the four cartridges and the two bullets, but held that these articles were not ammunition within the meaning of the Act. The appellant was found guilty of dacoity and sentenced to a term of imprisonment for that offence, but his appeal against his conviction was finally allowed by this Court on 4th November 1935. The Local-Government has appealed against the acquittal under the Arms Act for the reason, we understand, that it is important that there should be no misapprehension about the law upon the question which is before us. The cartridges are ordinary 12 bore cartridges.
2. The learned Judge relied on Amir v. Emperor 1925 23 ALJ 455, in which a man was convicted for having two cartridges in his possession, and it was held by a learned Judge of this Court that no offence had been committed because the cartridges could not be re-loaded in India. The decision in that case was followed in Kallu v. Emperor 1926 24 ALJ 208. These decisions are by single Judges of the Court. There is a decision of a Bench of this Court in Emperor v. Ala Din 1924 21 ALJ 879, in which it was held that empty cartridge cases come within the definition of ammunition under the Arms Act. It has been argued before us that cartridge cases may come within the definition, but it is necessary to prove as a positive fact that they are capable of being re-loaded before they can be described as ammunition. We are in agreement with the decision of the Bench of this Court to which we have had a reference. A cartridge case is undoubtedly a part of ammunition within the meaning of Section 4, Arms Act. No doubt it may be open to a person being in possession of such a case to show that it is no longer ammunition because it is incapable of being reloaded and used as a part of ammunition at any future time. There is nothing in the Act which says that part of ammunition shall not be ammunition unless it can be made up and incorporated in ammunition in India or anywhere else. It has also been mentioned that it is common practice for children in villages to pick up used cartridges when shooting parties leave them lying about. That is no doubt true but this fact cannot affect the law.
3. It is, we consider, an offence under the Arms Act to have an empty cartridge case in one's possession, but in the normal course where it is not suspected that the empty cartridge case is to be reloaded or to be used in future as ammunition, we should suppose that the matter would be of such slight importance that it would be ignored under the provisions of Section 95, I.P.C., or under the maxim, di minimis non curat lex. We are of opinion that the learned Sessions Judge was wrong in thinking that no offence had been committed in respect of cartridges. As for the bullets, the learned Judge seems to think that because they were made of lead, they were excluded from the terms of the Act. It seems to us that a piece of lead in the shape of a bullet or in the shape of shot is certainly ammunition or a part of ammunition. Lead as such, which is not in such a shape, is excluded from the meaning of the term, although lead can be made up into cartridges. We think therefore that the learned Sessions Judge was also wrong in his opinion that there was no offence in respect of the lead bullets. We must therefore set aside the order of acquittal. We have already explained that Bhopal Singh has been in prison for a long time and that he was acquitted of the offence of dacoity with which he was charged.
4. We do not know whether he paid the fine or whether, if he paid it, the money was refunded to him. We consider that the sentence of imprisonment that he has already served from 4th March to 4th of July is more than sufficient. If he had not already served the sentence, we should have thought it sufficient to pass a small sentence of fine upon him. We set aside the order of acquittal and restore the order of conviction passed by the learned Magistrate. We however sentence Bhopal Singh to imprisonment for the period which he has already served. We do not pass any sentence of fine, and if he has paid any sum on account of the fine and the money has not been refunded to him, it shall now be refunded. If Bhopal Singh is in jail, he shall be immediately released unless his detention is necessary in connexion with some other matter.