A Muslim civil police officer has moved the Kerala High Court challenging denial of permission to grow a beard as per his religious faith. In his petition, Riyaz K, posted in the Armed Reserve Camp at Ernakulam, submitted that he wanted to keep a beard being a religious obligation of a devout Muslim.
He had made a representation to the state police chief in this regard but the latter in a communication had informed him that his request to grow beard cannot be considered.
Challenging this, he contended that there was no law prohibiting sporting of beard by a police officer in the Kerala Police Service. Admitting the petition, the court on Monday issued notice to the state government and the state police chief.
Riyaz submitted he was allowed exemption from shaving his beard during the holy month of Ramzan in 2012. Subsequently, on May 31, 2013 he made a request to the Assistant Commandant of Police (Adjutant) for permission to sport beard permanently.
However, it was returned on the ground that being a religious matter, permission had to be given by government. Accordingly he submitted a representation to the government. He had also said the Air Force and Navy personnel were permitted to grow beard on religious and medical ground.
However, his representation was returned without being forwarded to the government with endorsement “rejected and returned”. He resubmitted the representation in June 2014, responding to which the state police chief informed him that his request to grow beard cannot be considered.
Riyaz contended that the police manual “does not contain any provision prohibiting the growing of beard. There is also no statute, Service Rules or government order prohibiting personnel in Kerala Police from growing beard.”
He argued that the action of the state government and state police chief denying him the right to grow beard is “illegal and arbitrary and violative” of Article 14, 15, 19 (1) (a), and 25 of the Constitution, relating to Right to Equality and Right to Freedom.
The action of the respondents denying the right protected under Article 25 of the Constitution (Right to freedom of religion) “is therefore arbitrary, illegal and unconstitutional being null and void,” the petition claimed.