Muslims in IAF can’t keep beard on religious grounds: SC

A bench led by Chief Justice of India T S Thakur added that regulations do not interfere with religious rights of individuals and that they have the sanctity of ensuring discipline.

Written by Utkarsh Anand | New Delhi | Updated: December 16, 2016 3:18 am
air force, air force beard, muslim man beard, supreme court, air force man beard, indian air force, supreme court air force, air force personnel beard New officers of Indian Air Force (IAF) celebrate during their graduation ceremony at Air Force Technical College in Bengaluru (PTI Photo)

Emphasising the need to “maintain discipline” in the Indian Air Force (IAF), the Supreme Court on Thursday ruled that Muslim personnel cannot keep beards by citing religious grounds.

The court was hearing two separate petitions, one of which was filed by Ansari Aaftab Ahmed, an airman who was dismissed from service in October 2008 for growing a beard without his commanding officer’s permission and refusing to shave it off despite being warned of disciplinary proceedings.

Ahmed had said that keeping a beard was a facet of his fundamental right to freedom of religion, and sought equality with Sikhs.

The IAF had maintained that “all Muslims do not carry beard. The practice of growing and keeping beard is optional and sporting a beard is not universally recognised in the religion of Islam. Therefore, it cannot be said that Muslim religion prohibits the cutting of hair or shaving of the face of its member.”

The bench led by Chief Justice of India T S Thakur affirmed Ahmed’s dismissal. It said that while India was undoubtedly a secular nation in which every religion must be treated with equality, it “cannot be overlooked that the overarching necessity of a force which has been raised to protect the nation is to maintain discipline.”

The bench, also comprising Justices D Y Chandrachud and L Nageswara Rao, said there was nothing to show that the tenets of Islam prohibit cutting hair or shaving the face, like in the case of Sikhs.

The defence ministry’s policy on “hair, beard and wearing turbans”, as notified in 2003, states that while Sikhs are allowed to keep unshorn hair, beard and turban, the others have to obtain permission to grow a beard. “Only those Muslim personnel, who had kept beard along with moustache at the time of commissioning/ enrolment prior to 1 Jan 2002, would be allowed to keep beard and moustache. Muslims who have grown beard after joining service should shave off the beard. Under no circumstances, a Muslim person who had beard at the time of joining service before 1 Jan 2002 shall be allowed to maintain beard without moustache. Moustache would be a part of the beard,” it says.

“The touchstone for being allowed to grow one’s hair or to retain a beard is where there is a religious command which prohibits either the hair being cut or a beard being shaved,” noted the bench.

The objective of these regulations, the court held, was “to ensure uniformity, cohesiveness, discipline and order which are indispensable to the Air Force, as indeed to every armed force of the Union.”

“Every armed force raised in a civilised nation has its own ‘dress and deportment’ policy… Evidently, these provisions have been introduced having due regard to the security concerns inherent in maintaining identity in the armed forces. Maintenance of identity is a crucial element in the safety and security of the forces, particularly in the context of the threat of infiltration,” said the court.

It said policies relating to discipline in the armed forces were linked to the need to protect the nation from threats of destabilisation and disorder, and the norms were laid down to ensure that the personal appearance of an individual should not show any religious bias.

 

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  1. M
    Mee Here
    Dec 15, 2016 at 5:56 pm
    well we are living in a sick state, suffering from 'pseudo hindutva' disease. The sick can do anything in the name of religion and they are not stopped since they are sick! The majority of the people want a sick governance, so what can the minority healthy people do in a democracy.
    Reply
    1. I
      indian
      Dec 16, 2016 at 4:53 am
      Libreals: SC is intolerant
      Reply
      1. I
        indian
        Dec 15, 2016 at 2:34 pm
        Come on pseudos...Now claim SC is communal
        Reply
        1. R
          Rahul
          Dec 17, 2016 at 7:51 am
          We respect all the religions but our nation come first. You should proud that you are serving nation. Every government personal bind with some rules and protocol. This type of cases only wastages the time of respected judges,lawyers and ociated organization. There are so many issues while working. Fight for that but don't fight for this.
          Reply
          1. S
            SCam
            Dec 16, 2016 at 4:40 am
            Soon SC is to rule that no citizen of India should have pubic hair!
            Reply
            1. F
              Fu*kFeku
              Dec 16, 2016 at 2:53 am
              And Hinduism makes humans like u ra*pe and insult, abuse other religion
              Reply
              1. F
                Fu*kFeku
                Dec 16, 2016 at 3:00 am
                Chup black dog
                Reply
                1. F
                  Fu*kFeku
                  Dec 16, 2016 at 2:54 am
                  Then Sikhs should also not be allowed to have big turbans and have beards? Is India a democratic country or is it now a fascist country until Hitler modi?
                  Reply
                  1. L
                    Lovely
                    Dec 16, 2016 at 3:23 am
                    I toured many OIC countries, Islam is truly different than what it is in India. Blame our politicians.lt;br/gt;Brahmins too sport beard for one reason or other, but when you are at a work place you need to follow rules of that place.lt;br/gt;Even Hindu women don purdah on face,particularly in lt;br/gt;BIMARU states.
                    Reply
                    1. L
                      Lovely
                      Dec 16, 2016 at 3:26 am
                      If you can not perform namaz during working hours, then what will happen.???????
                      Reply
                      1. L
                        Lovely
                        Dec 15, 2016 at 10:56 pm
                        Why you do not go to stan
                        Reply
                        1. L
                          Lovely
                          Dec 16, 2016 at 3:17 am
                          You got Pak on the basis of religion . But now you con not get spl treatment here.
                          Reply
                          1. M
                            Matty
                            Dec 15, 2016 at 1:59 pm
                            How do beards endanger National Interests?lt;br/gt;lt;br/gt;How do Muslim beards endanger National Interests while Sikh beards don't?lt;br/gt;lt;br/gt;How do beards without moustaches endanger National Interests while beards with moustaches don't?
                            Reply
                            1. M
                              Matty
                              Dec 15, 2016 at 11:36 am
                              Muslims can not sport beard while Sikhs can!lt;br/gt;lt;br/gt;Muslims who had beards since 2001 or before can continue to have them, others can not!lt;br/gt;lt;br/gt;And even those muslims who had beards since 2001 or before can only have them if they also have moustaches alongwith, not otherwise. Means - no beards without moustaches. Apparently the dangers posed by evil solitary beards are neutralized by benign friendly moustaches!lt;br/gt;lt;br/gt;I don't get the science and logic behind these decision. But why on earth am I looking for science and logic anywhere?
                              Reply
                              1. M
                                Mujeeb
                                Dec 15, 2016 at 10:16 pm
                                Dear bro surator, it is mandatory for every Muslim to have beard, any where in the world. Who don't follow it's their own choice but not a Islam choice. Just for your knowledge - trust me all these happening lead to demolishing nation - thanks dear
                                Reply
                                1. M
                                  Mujeeb
                                  Dec 15, 2016 at 10:18 pm
                                  Dear bro, it is mandatory for every Muslim to have beard, any where in the world. Who don't follow it's their own choice and individual is answerable on judgement day. but not a Islam choice. Just for your knowledge - trust me all these happening lead to demolishing nation - thanks dear
                                  Reply
                                  1. D
                                    Deep Singh
                                    Dec 15, 2016 at 9:13 am
                                    I agree with you mujahid to some extent but it's not about down trodden group. If you look into any muslim country like pak, bangla, afghan etc then you can see and feel what is minority or downtrodden. It's India who care for all irrespective of their religion. Don't go to say this just because of some few peoples. Just because of some few hardliner muslims, w community has to face this problem which is wrong somewhere.
                                    Reply
                                    1. S
                                      Sukhjeet Harroop
                                      Dec 15, 2016 at 4:39 pm
                                      Kejriwal ko bolo, kuch kare.
                                      Reply
                                      1. A
                                        Amit
                                        Dec 16, 2016 at 4:13 am
                                        Next demand will be to put a skull cap instead of the air-force cap, then something else. Best to nip in the bud. Now this man can keep on growing beard but at home.
                                        Reply
                                        1. A
                                          Amit
                                          Dec 16, 2016 at 4:17 am
                                          Sikhs will cut your remaining half
                                          Reply
                                          1. A
                                            Arif m
                                            Dec 15, 2016 at 12:45 pm
                                            Infact if a person has sentiments towards his religious practices more than nationalism he should voluntarily resign, no point in going to court. Also many muslim countries Army men are not allowed to have a beard. Even those who have civilian job roles.
                                            Reply
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