Retaining unshorn hair is one of the most important and fundamental tenets of Sikhism, Punjab and Haryana High Court ruled on Saturday.
A full bench upheld the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee precondition for maintaining ‘Sikh Swarup’ by students seeking admission under the Sikh minority community quota in institutions run by the religious body.
The bench dismissed the petition of Sikh students whom the Guru Ram Das Institute of Medical Sciences and Research, Amritsar, had denied admission in MBBS, despite merit, on the grounds that they had violated the Sikh religion by trimming beard and plucking eyebrows.
“On the basis of the undisputed factual position, that all the petitioners indulge in trimming their hair or plucking hair of their eyebrows, they can legitimately be denied of a benefit otherwise available to Sikhs,” justice Khehar said.
“We have repeatedly concluded…that retaining bodily hair unshorn is one of the most essential tenets of the Sikh religion. And as such, if a Sikh organisation or body decides not to extend any benefit, which is otherwise available to a Sikh, to a person who does not maintain his hair unshorn, its determination would be perfectly legitimate.”