Supreme Court to decide whether Muslims in Indian Air Force can sport beards

PTI – Supreme Court to decide whether Muslims in IAF can sport beards

The Supreme Court has decided to examine the crucial question of whether a Muslim serving in IAF can be prevented from sporting a beard. The petitioner Mohd Zubair has challenged the IAF authorities’ “confidential order” dated February 24 2003, prohibiting Muslim personnel from sporting beards.

According to Zubair the order was in contravention of the Fundamental Rights of the citizen and also a Government letter issued through the Ministry of Home, dated July 18, 1990.

The said letter of the Home Minister permitted the uniformed Muslim/Sikh personnel to sport beards on religious ground, provided prior permission was sought from the authorities.

Zubair alleged that by a confidential letter of February 24, 2003 even this concession of sporting beard through prior permission was withdrawn by the IAF and he was also asked to shave off his beard.

Zubair challenged the IAF order by a way of a writ petition in the Delhi High Court and a single judge citing certain Muslim religious texts took the view that sporting beard was not compulsory and hence dismissed his plea. The petitioner approached a division bench which concurred with the order of the single judge and dismissed his plea following which he appealed in the apex court.

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