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Beard row: Muslim student moves SC again

May 24, 2009 15:12 IST

Supreme Court's judgment refusing a Muslim student's plea to sport beards in educational institutions by observing it would not permit 'Talibanisation of the country' has been challenged by the aggrieved youth by way of a fresh petition.

In his petition Salim, a student, had sought a review of the judgment and submitted that the observations on 'Talibanisation' had caused incalculable damage to the country's image and the judiciary, besides, hurting the sentiments of the Muslim community.

The student submitted through counsel Abdul Karim Ansari that the judgement needs to be reviewed afresh as the core issue of a Muslim's right to sport a beard as guaranteed by Article 25 was violated by the school.

Article 25 provides every citizen the right to practice his/her religion.

Salim, a student of Nirmala Convent Higher Secondary School, a government-recognised minority institution in Madhya Pradesh, had earlier challenged the institution's rule which prohibited students from sporting a beard in the school.

After the Madhya Pradesh High Court upheld the validity of the rule, Salim appealed in the apex court which dismissed his plea and observed that secularism cannot be overstretched and that "Talibanisation" of the country cannot be permitted.

Justice Markandeya Katju who was part of the bench with Justice R V Raveendran had observed, "We don't want to have Talibans in the country. Tomorrow a girl student may come and say that she wants to wear a burqa, can we allow it?"

The apex court then said a minority institution has its own set of rules and rights provided by Article 30 of the Constitution and the same cannot be breached by any person.

"If there are rules you have to follow. You can't say that I will not wear a uniform I will wear only a burqa," the bench had observed.

Challenging the said observations and judgement, Salim in his fresh petition submitted, "Observations of the judge regarding wearing of beard and burqa have done incalculable harm and damage to the country's prestige and image of its highly respected judiciary. These irrelevant and uncalled for observations have also triggered an avoidable debate on the right of the Muslim minority raising questions in the process on the manner and method of court functioning, besides hurting the feelings and sentiments of the community," the review petition stated.

The petition further stated the appeal against the high court order was passed without any proper reasoning as it involved a substantial question of law relating to a Muslim's right to sport a beard in an educational institution.

"The failure to do so constitutes a grave error of law and calls for a review of the impugned order," the petition added.

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