The Supreme Court ordered that Indian Airforce (IAF) personnel cannot keep beard. It held that Central Government’s decision to ban beards in the IAF does not infringe upon fundamental rights.
The court had pronounced the judgment on an appeal by Mohammed Zubair, who was recruited as Airman in the IAF and was sacked for growing beard even after being denied permission.
What is the issue?
The appellant had claimed that keeping beard is his fundamental right to freedom of religion. However, IAF had countered it saying that keeping a beard was not an essential practice of their faith unlike in the Sikh religion.
What Supreme Court order says?
- Upheld the decision of the IAF to dismiss a Muslim airman for growing beard citing religious grounds.
- The Armed Forces Regulation, 1964 allows growing hair or to retain a beard is where there is a religious command which prohibits either the hair being cut or a beard being shaved.
- Article 33 of the Constitution has the authority to impose restriction on the fundamental rights of Armed Forces personnel.
- Defence Ministry’s 2003 notification allows only those Muslim personnel who sported a beard along with moustache at time of commissioning (prior to January 1, 2002) to retain it.
- These regulations are meant for uniformity and discipline and have nothing to do with religious rights.