DTT: The double standards are clearly seen here.
The advocate representing National Cadet Corps (NCC) was literally left speechless on Wednesday when Justice Anand Byra Reddy’s simple enquired, why are only Sikhs exempted for having beard in armed force, while others are not? The Central Government advocate representing the Ministry of Defence said he would need time to answer that as he had to take instructions from the ministry.
The court was hearing a case of seven Muslim students who were not permitted to write the ‘C’ Certificate exam.
The students of Al Ameen College, aged between 17 and 22, are the petitioners in the case. Syed Ahmed is a company senior under-officer in NCC and the other six, Osman Khan, Mohammed Moaz, Mohammed Sulaiman, Mohammed Nadeem, Aamir Subhab, and Syed Shoaib Qasim are either corporals or in sergeant ranks.
Previous year, a higher-ranking NCC officer had stopped them from writing the exam on February 23 for the reason that they had beards. They were also enlightened that they could opt for supplementary exams if they appeared clean-shaven.
After hearing their case on March 20, 2013, the Group Commander of Bangalore NCC gave the brush-off to their claim for appearing in the supplementary exams without shaving.
In that case, they approached the High Court on March 27, 2013, just three days before the supplementary exams. The High Court gave permission to them to write the exams while having beards. However, it also said that the final outcome of the case will determine whether they will get the certificates. Since the case is still pending, their results are withheld. After the hearing on Wednesday, the order is now expected on February 18.
The students, in their case, have cited the reference of Hyder Ali—a soldier in the Assam Rifles—who was confiscated from service for sporting a beard in 1997. In 2003, the Supreme Court ruled in favour of Ali.
In one more case, a Maharashtra student who was denied entry to NCC for sporting a beard was also allowed by the court, the students had pleaded.
During the arguments, the advocate for the NCC said that as per armed forces rules, only people belonging to the Sikh community are allowed to sport beards in the forces. NCC is a military cadet organization that abide by these rules.
This was when Justice Reddy asked the logic behind Sikhs getting excused and others are not.