Maharashtra cop moves Supreme Court for 'right' to grow beard

New Delhi, Jan. 23 -- The Supreme Court on Tuesday agreed to examine the plea of a Muslim police constable who wants to grow a beard but has been denied by the Maharashtra government.

Petitioner Zahiroddin Shamsoddin Bedade, employed with Maharashtra police and posted at the State Reserve Police Force, Jalna, has moved SC against the Bombay High Court verdict refusing to entertain his petition.

He has stated that denial to keep a beard violates his right guaranteed under Article 25 (Freedom of conscience and profession) and Article 26 (freedom to manage religious affairs).

A bench of Justice P Sathasivam and Justice J S Khehar stayed the HC order and issued notice to the Centre, Maharashtra government and the Commandant, State Reserve Police Force, Group No 3, Jalna.

All have been asked to file their response within four weeks. Until then Bedade can keep a beard in keeping with his religious beliefs.

Bedade said he was initially granted permission to keep a beard under a Home Ministry circular issued on March 9, 1989. But on October 9, 2012, the commandant in-charge of his unit withdrew the permission citing amended guidelines issued by the state Home Ministry.

The commandant however granted him permission to grow a beard during the holy month of Ramzan.

Since he wasn't given an opportunity to be heard, Bedade moved the HC stating the cancellation order was a violation of the principles of natural justice. The HC, however, found no infirmity with the commandant's order and dismissed his petition.

In his appeal before SC, Bedade said the object of secularism was not to prevent the practice of religion but to provide liberty, freedom, equality and fraternity between persons belonging to different religions.

Published by HT Syndication with permission from Hindustan Times.

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