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IAF personnel can't sport beard on religious grounds: Supreme Court

Dec 16, 2016 15:37 IST

supreme court The Supreme Court on 15 December 2016 ruled that the Indian Air Force (IAF) personnel cannot sport a beard on religious grounds.

The judgment was pronounced by a bench comprising the Chief Justice of India TS Thakur, Justice DY Chandrachud and Justice L Nageswara Rao.

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In the judgment, the bench reasoned that the personal policies on appearance are not intended to discriminate against religious beliefs but to ensure uniformity and discipline which are indispensable to every armed force.

The bench further observed that for the effective functioning of a large combat force, the members must bond together by a sense of esprit-de-corps. There should not be any distinctions on the basis of caste, creed, colour or religion.

The bench concluded that while on duty, every member of the Indian Air Force is required to wear the uniform and not display any sign distinguishing one from another.

Background

• By a 26 August 26 2005 communication, the IAF directed that an airman was not permitted to have a beard on religious grounds.

• Two Muslim personnel of IAF - Airmen Mohammed Zubair and Ansari Aaftab Ahmed filed a petition against this directive in the Punjab and Haryana High Court.

• The litigants appealed in the court for quashing the directive of the IAF.

• The court ruled that there was no merit in the appeals as the litigants were unable to show that their case falls within the ambit of Regulation 425(b).

• The regulation says that the personnel whose religion prohibits the cutting of the hair or face shaving will be permitted to grow hair or retain beard.

• The litigants appealed in the Supreme Court against the order of the High Court

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