The Punjab and Haryana High Court Saturday ordered the Haryana Public Service Commission to allow the baptized Sikh candidates to appear in the preliminary examination of Haryana Civil Services (Executive Branch) and other Allied Services with the five articles of their faith – Kesh, Kangha, Kara, Kirpan and Kachhiara – after a thorough screening. The exam is scheduled for Sunday, March 31.
Advocate Charanpal Singh Bagri Saturday filed a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) claiming that the HPSC, through a recent announcement, has prohibited the candidates from carrying any religious articles inside the examination centre. The Chief Justice, at 4 pm directed to constitute a bench to take up the PIL.
A division bench of Justices Rakesh Kumar Jain and Harnaresh Singh Gill, which heard the PIL, directed that such baptized Sikh candidates who wish to wear the five articles of Sikh faith on their persons while appearing during the examination should reach the respective examination centres one hour before the reporting time.
“If upon screening, it is discovered that any such baptized Sikh candidate, is actually carrying within the kara and kripan, any suspected device, he should be asked not to take the same into the examination centre,” the division bench said. It added that in case the candidates fail to appear an hour before the reporting time and fail to cooperate with the process of screening, “then they should not be allowed to take the examination with such kara and kripan on their persons”.
The division bench while issuing notice to the Centre and Haryana for April 30 in the order said that “it is a matter of public interest as not only this issue is to come up before this Court again and again for the purposes of adjudication but also a prayer has been made in the writ petition for seeking direction for the purpose of enactment of a law for providing exemption to the baptaized Sikhs to wear the five religious signs at the time of appearing in any examination”.
Earlier, Advocate Bagri contended that it was a matter of religious sentiment of the Sikh community and submitted that an ‘Amritdhari’ Sikh has to wear the five religious signs, also called ‘kakars’. He further submitted that the ceremonial dagger (kirpan), which is of the length of 9 inch, “is for defence and constitutes two words “kirpa” & “aan” wherein the word “kirpa” means compassion or kindness and the word “aan” means honour”.
A Haryana government counsel appearing in the case submitted that the petitioner has no locus standi to pursue the petition, adding the particular items have been restricted from being carried by the candidates to avoid the incidents of copying and using the unfair means during the examination.