The Karnataka High Court on Thursday reserved its order on a plea questioning the decision of the Central government to grant exemption to Kodavas and Jamma Landholders in Kodagu district from the requirement to obtain a license to carry and possess firearms under the provisions of the Indian Arms Act, 1959. .The matter was heard by a Bench of Acting Chief Justice Sathish Chandra Sharma and Justice SS Magadum. The Court had issued notice in the matter in July..The petition by an ex-army officer Capt Chethan YK said that the Centre had decided to continue the British-era rule of exempting Kodavas and Jamma land holders in the hill district of Kodagu from obtaining licence for firearms such as pistols, revolvers and double-barrelled shotguns. The exemption was given for 10 years, till 2029.Such an exemption is unconstitutional as it creates differentiation based on race, caste and ancestral land tenure, he contended..When the matter came up for hearing today, advocate BV Vidyulatha, appearing for the petitioner, submitted that only the Kodava and Jamma landholders were granted the exemption from carrying firearms without a licence."Why differentiate a class from the others when the language, rituals, culture , geographical area is the same. There is no requirement to give preference for a class. I am not asking for abolition of gun culture just that we have to relook certain previleges only for certain class or caste," Vidyulatha submitted. .Additional Solicitor General MB Nargund, appearing for the Central government questioned the maintainability of the plea. He contended that since the fundamental rights of the petitioner are not violated and since the petitioner is not challenging Section 41 of the Indian Arms Act (Power to exempt), the petition does not deserve to be entertained . Nargund also said that Kodavas are a distinct community and explained the reasons behind granted exemptions to them to hold firearms without license. "They don’t have classes. The caste system is not prevalent in this particular tribe. What the Kodavas worship are Cauvery mata (River Cauvery), Arms and they do one pooja. They don’t have priestly classes also among them.” .It was also submitted that the notification of October 29, 2019, was issued after the review, which took into consideration the observations of various stakeholders and Home department, Government of Karnataka, offices of Deputy Commissioner, District Magistrate of Kodagu district and a report submitted by the local police authority. The 2019 notification is valid for a period of ten years and issued after due deliberation and informed opinion, Nargund re-affirmed. Referring to the notification, he contended that “Lot of precautions are taken and safeguards are put in place in the notification as regards number of weapons to be held and its specification and amount of ammunition to be held.” .Senior Advocate Sajan Poovayya appearing for an intervenor, concurred with the submissions made by the Union. He opined that negative equality is not the hallmark of Article 19. "Since the petitioner did not obtain an exemption to hold firearms without licence, he cannot argue that the exemption given to Kodava community is wrong." Povaayya further said that certain foreign people, when in India, are given an exemption and they need not require a licence to do so. If the petitioner had an issue with the exemption granted, then he should have challenged Section 41 of the Indian Arms Act but that is not the case here, it was added. .It was further submitted that Kodavas being a distinct race, Article 25 kicks in and not Article 14. "Nothing stops the petitioner from applying for the exemption himself." Senior Advocate Dhyan Chinnappa, appearing for another set of intervenors, submitted, "Someone will have always be excluded when there is an exemption in a Statute. There is a historical reason behind grant of an exemption. Centre made an informed decision in granting exemption in this case. You can’t argue Article 14 here because there is an exemption.".He further said that even in the Sikh community, Kirpan is allowed to be used by members of the community and similarly, the Gorkha community is permitted to use kukri etc..However, Vidyulatha said that in the present case, Article 25 and 26 will not be attracted."The petitioner does not want to apply for exemption because he does not want to promote this system. He wants to end this. This does not stand the test of Time. Even in the Sabarimala case, the Supreme Court said that keeping female devotees outside the temple, which a religious practise, is not right. .The Court after hearing the parties reserved its verdict.