If you like to wear a beard and aren’t a Sikh, then the Indian Air Force (IAF) is not for you. Even its Muslim personnel can’t grow beards since this “practice” is “not universally recognized in Islam”, the IAF told Supreme Court.
While in uniform, the IAF said, the appearance of an individual should not give indications of religious bias. The submission was in response to a petition filed by Leading Aircraftsman Ansari Aftab Ahmad, who has challenged his senior’s order to shave.
Ahmad said his religion prohibited shaving the beard and he should be permitted to keep it as per IAF rules. He moved Supreme Court after the Punjab and Haryana High Court ruled against him.
The IAF denied it had rules permitting Muslims to sport a beard. It said Muslim personnel who joined before January 2002 were allowed a beard and moustache, if they had it at the time of commissioning or enrolment. Ahmad was clean-shaven when he joined in 2001. Also, the revised policy of 2003 disallows beards in the force.