The Punjab and Haryana High Court has ruled that in the absence of any law or valid regulation that prohibits carrying of a kirpan (a short sword with a curved blade) inside a courtroom, a Sikh cannot be restrained from wearing and carrying a kirpan in court.
The judgment came from a bench headed by Justice Harinder Singh Sidhu, which quashed an Ambala district court order, on April 18 last year, wherein it had directed an Amritdhari Sikh, Dilawar Singh, accused in a murder case, to appear in court without the kirpan.
“The petitioner being an Amritdhari Sikh is enjoined by his religion to, at all times, wear the five kakars, of which the kirpan is one. The Constitution explicitly and in the plainest terms secures to the petitioner the right to wear and carry kirpan as being included in the profession of his religion. This right could only be subject to regulation in the interest of public order, morality or health, which regulation could only be by the mandate of a statute,” Justice Sidhu ordered.
Commenting on the Ambala district court’s order, Justice Sidhu observed that there was nothing in the impugned order to suggest that the petitioner was indulging in any disorderly behaviour or that he had any past history of violent crime or that there was any other cause for even the remotest apprehension in the mind of the presiding judge of his behaving violently and causing harm or injury to any person.
The judge remarked, “Assuming there was any such apprehension, in that event also, in the first place, any suitable protective measure, short of asking him to remove the kirpan could have been resorted to, like stationing security personnel around or close to him.” The court further added, “But there is no need to traverse in the realm of conjecture and contemplate a situation that did not exist, because that is not the reason for the order. Therefore, I am left with no option but to conclude, that in the present case, I see no valid cause or justification for the impugned order, which on the face of it is illegal and unconstitutional.”
During the case hearing, the Haryana government had also argued that in view of the Constitutional provisions there should be no restriction on the wearing of kirpan by Sikhs while appearing in Court, subject to certain restrictions of size and length. Before coming to the conclusion, Justice Sidhu, however, observed, “It has to be recognised that, even in the absence of any law, rule or regulation, every court would have an inherent power to ensure orderly conduct of its proceedings and the presiding judge would have absolute control of the court domain.” The court said that kirpan possessed or carried by Sikhs is exempted from provisions of the Arms Act, 1959. Thus, no licence is required for a Sikh to wear or carry a kirpan.