A Muslim cannot grow a beard after joining the IAF as discipline as uniformity and cohesiveness in the armed forces could not be sacrificed for religious beliefs, which clashed with the rules of a defence force, the Supreme Court ruled on Thursday.
A bench of Chief Justice T S Thakur and Justices D Y Chandrachud and L Nageswara Rao said the defence forces were required to maintain a secular character as people from different faiths and religions joined to serve the nation and regulations and policies on personal appearance were not intended to discriminate against religious beliefs.
The court said, for effective and thorough functioning of a large combat force, its members must be bound together by a sense of “espirit de corps, without distinctions of caste, creed, colour or religion.”
The court did consider the case of a community like Sikhs whose members wear turbans and have beards and noted, “No material has been produced before this court to indicate that the appellant professes a religious belief that would bring him within the ambit of Regulation 425(b), which applies to personnel whose religion prohibits the cutting off of hair or shaving the face of its members.
There can be no gainsaying the fact that maintaining the unity of the force is an important facet of instilling a sense of commitment and dedication amongst the members of the force. Every member of the air force while on duty is required to wear the uniform and not display any sign or object which distinguishes one from another. Uniformity of personal appearance is quintessential to a cohesive, disciplined and coordinated functioning of an armed force.” source by…the times of india
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