Gun licence exemption to Kodavas: High Court upholds Centre’s decision; dismisses PIL
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Gun licence exemption to Kodavas: High Court upholds Centre’s decision; dismisses PIL

September 22, 2021

Bengaluru: The Karnataka High Court (HC) has upheld the Centre’s decision to continue the British-era rule of exempting Kodavas and land holders in Kodagu district from obtaining licence for firearms such as pistols, revolvers and double-barrelled shotguns. The Court has dismissed the Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed in this regard.

Delivering a judgement on the PIL this morning, a Division Bench of the Karnataka High Court categorically said that the gun licence exemption would continue. This was confirmed by advocates Sajan Poovayya and A.S. Ponnanna, who argued for the Kodava community before the High Court. 

“Congratulations to all from Coorg. Karnataka High Court upholds the Arms Act exemption granted to Kodavas and Jamma tenure holders in Coorg,” Sajan Poovayya tweeted.

Advocate Ponnanna said, “The High Court has upheld the notification exempting Kodavas and Jamma land holders from obtaining licence for a gun. The PIL filed challenging the said notification has been dismissed.” 

The PIL was filed by Captain (Retd.) Yaladalu K. Chethan, son of Yaladalu D. Keshavananda of Galibeedu village in Kodagu, who had challenged the Centre’s decision to continue the British-era rule of exempting Kodavas and Jamma land holders in Kodagu district from obtaining licence for firearms such as pistols, revolvers and double-barrelled shotguns till 2029.

On Oct.19, 2019, the Union Ministry of Home Affairs issued a notification providing exemption to the Arms Rules 2016, till Oct. 31, 2029. 

Kodavas worship weapons and guns are part and parcel of every festival and ceremony — be it birth or death — and the decision has been taken considering the cultural and religious sensitivities of the community. “Those who have been given the exemption are every person of Kodagu by race and every Jamma land tenure holder in Kodagu,” according to the 2019 Home Ministry notification.

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Kodavas are the only community in India who are exempted from obtaining arms licences. However, Chethan stated in his PIL that exemption, granted to ‘every person of Coorg race and every Jamma tenure land holder in Coorg’ is unconstitutional, as it creates differentiation based on race, caste and ancestral land tenure.

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