Exemption to Kodavas from obtaining gun licence being reviewed: MHA to HC

Ministry of Home Affairs justifies continuation of exemption since 1963

August 13, 2019 11:33 pm | Updated 11:33 pm IST - Bengaluru

The exemption granted since 1963 to certain class of people in Kodagu district from obtaining licence to possess and carry firearms under the provisions of the Arms Act, 1959, is being reviewed along with the review of the entire Arms Act to amend the old enactment, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) told the Karnataka High Court on Tuesday.

A statement was submitted before a Division Bench comprising Chief Justice Abhay Shreeniwas Oka and Justice Mohammad Nawaz during the hearing of a PIL petition filed by Capt. Chethan Y.K. (retired), resident of Galibeedu in Madikeri taluk of Kodagu district.

Assistant Solicitor General of India C. Shashikantha informed the Bench that MHA has constituted a committee to review and suggest amendments to Arms Act, and the process had been initiated to secure the views of stakeholders with regard to exemption granted to a class of people in Kodagu district.

The Ministry has communicated to the State government, the Deputy Commissioner, Kodagu district, and central law agencies asking them to send comments/views on the exemption granted to Kodavas by race or Jamma-holders keeping in view the law and order situation in the region, and culture and sentimental issues of the said race.

“In case the exemption/privilege is extended again based on the recommendations of stakeholders, such periodical reviews will be conducted to ensure there is no arbitrary extension of the privilege,” the Ministry said in its statement.

It also stated that the exemption has several riders and possession of arms by exempted persons in Kodagu is properly documented and checked through jurisdictional police stations. The privilege, existing in pre-independence era, was continued considering the fact that use of firearms and other arms has a vital role in religious and civil usage of people belonging to the Kodava race, the Ministry’s statement said. The statement said there was no report on misuse of the exemption.

The Bench disposed of the PIL while directing the Centre to take a decision within eight weeks. The petitioner, in his plea filed in 2018, had questioned the legality of the notification granting exemption.

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