Christian Community to appeal against the ‘beard’ order

via Devinder Thakur published on September 19, 2009

The Christian community in Madhya Pradesh is hugely aggrieved  directing the Nirmala Convent Higher Secondary School in Vidish District to take back Class 10 student Mohamed Salim , expelled last year for refusing to to shave his beard on religious ground. The members of the Christian community said that as the decision was interim order, they would reiterate at the next hearing with greater vigour why the court’s order would take a toll on discipline in a well-run institutions.
“A Brahman student might want  to sport a ponytail (choti)  on a shaven head on the plea that it was his caste right or a Jain of the Shwetambara sect with his mouth and nose sealed with a cloth and take the school to court if denied the right.” They said that they would try to impress upon the court that the comparison with Sikh students was unwarranted since keeping long hair was formally prescribed in their religion and honoured world over. In Salim’s case no religious rights had been infringed since keeping facial hair is not compulsory under Islam .” It is part of the Sunnat and not the Quran” “What is optional should not be enforced legally or otherwise.
Rusticated last July for refusing to abide by the school’s rules. Salim 16 petitioned the high court to protect what he claimed was a fundamental religious right under Article 25 of the Constitution  When the Gwalior bench of the Jabalpur high court rejected the case he knocked at the doors of the Supreme Court where a two member bench compromising Justice R.V.Raveendran and  Justice M. Katju also dismissed the petition on the ground that the school was fully within its rights to frame its rules and regulations  as empowered under Article 30 of the Constitution.  A view upheld in PA Inamdar -v- State of Maharashtra case. Salim’s lawyer led by Mr Bashir Ahmed Khan  ex-Chief Justice of the J &K high court (clean shaven himself) . however, were convinced that a review petition was in order and if that did not suffice , an appeal before a five member bench would be considered.
Salim whose father is a vegetable vendor had argued that he had been studying in Nirmala Convent since class 1.  Not once was he ever told that the beard was prohibited. If Sikh boys attended school with long beard , there was no reason why he couldn’t  wear a beard, Every male in his family had one. He said his beard had grown during a 40-day “Chilla”(prayer) after which he felt like preseving it.  The Nirmala Convent said he’d have to come clean shaven to school or quit.

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