The Delhi High Court Tuesday refused to entertain a PIL seeking a ban on burqas and other face veils in public places due to security threat to the capital, saying it is not a public interest matter. A bench of Chief Justice G Rohini and Justice Sangeeta Dhingra Sehgal dismissed the plea saying, “If it is a policy decision, the government will take care of it. How can we entertain it (PIL) under Article 226 (power of High Courts to issue certain writs).
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“We cannot interfere in this writ petition. The same is dismissed. It is not an issue which deserves consideration by this court under the Article. It is not a matter of public interest.” The plea sought a ban on wearing face veils including burqas, helmets, hoods etc at public places like transport, government buildings and heritage sites in the capital on the ground of threat from terror activities.
The plea, filed by Sardar Ravi Ranjan Singh, alleged, “the use of face coverings and wearing of full body cover like the burqa is a serious security issue and citizens are put to constant risk and fear in the capital which is in violation of Article 21(protection of life and personal liberty) of the Constitution of India.” It said, “There is a rapid growth in terrorist activities and that the perpetrators of these criminal acts show no respect to burqa and ruthlessly use it as an instrument to carry out ‘fidayeen’ attacks.”
The petitioner also referred to the recent attacks in Uri in Jammu and Kashmir and said public safety and the government offices in the capital are at constant risk. “Face veils, burqas can be used to prevent identification at border check-posts etc. Further, criminals and extremists can use burqas to skip checking at police posts and barricades,” the PIL which made Centre, Delhi government and National Security Council as parties, said.