Can a policeman be dismissed from the service for not trimming his beard? The Haryana government says it can.
Justifying its decision to terminate a constable from the paramilitary forces on this ground, the state has approached the Supreme Court challenging a Punjab and Haryana high court order directing reinstatement of the policeman who was removed from services after he refused to trim his beard.
The High Court had in January this year ruled in favour of the policeman, Satpal Khan, permitting him to keep the beard because he was a Muslim.
It held the government order was in violation of Khan’s fundamental right to religion that disallowed him to shave off his beard. Further, the bench concluded that since Khan had followed the rules and sought permission to keep a beard, the authorities could not throw him out of the service.
The Supreme Court on Friday issued a notice to Khan on the Haryana government’s appeal.
It also condoned the delay in time that the government took to file the appeal.
According to the state government, it had adopted the Centre’s instructions on keeping a beard by the personnel of the paramilitary forces in 2001.
The instructions permit a Muslim to keep a beard after obtaining necessary permission from the commandant.