Religion Current Affairs - 2020

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Madras High Court bans unauthorised Sharia courts in Tamil Nadu

The Madras High Court has banned all unauthorised Sharia courts in mosques across Tamil Nadu, saying centres of worship were only to be used for religious purposes.

The court’s pronouncement came in response to a PIL filed by a non-resident Indian mentioning that such sharia courts are operating as a court of law from mosques and dealt largely with matrimonial disputes, even going to the extent of passing divorce orders.

Madras High Court Judgement
  • Complete ban on all unauthorised Sharia courts functioning in premises of mosques.
  • Religious places and other places of worships are meant only for religious purposes.
  • Tamil Nadu State government to ensure that such unauthorised courts do not function.

Earlier in 2014, Supreme Court had refused to ban Sharia courts saying the interpretations made by Islamic judges and are not legally binding. It even held that these courts could pass verdicts only when individuals submit to them voluntarily.

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IAF personnel cannot keep beard: SC

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.

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