New Delhi: The Supreme Court Tuesday issued notice to the central and Maharashtra governments on a petition by a Muslim constable asking if he was entitled to grow a beard as a matter of religious belief and practice.
Zahroodin Shamsaddin, a constable in the Maharashtra State Reserve Police Force, contended that the believers and followers of Islam had been commanded by Prophet Mohammad to "keep their beards and cut the mustaches short".
The apex court bench of Justice P. Sathasivsam and Justice J.S. Khehar issued the notice after it was told that the state police order withdrawing permission to grow beards was against the tenets of Islam.
While issuing the notice, the court also stayed the departmental disciplinary proceedings against Shamsaddin.
Shamsaddin challenged the Dec 12, 2012 order of the Aurangabad bench of the Bombay High Court which said that the order withdrawing the permission to grow beards did not interfere with or violate the fundamental rights.
By a May 7, 2012 order Shamsaddin was permitted to grow a beard but the same was rescinded Oct 9, 2012. Shamsaddin contended that he was not afforded an opportunity before orders cancelling the earlier orders were issued by the high court.
The petition faulted the high court order contending that it was in breach of the right to equality guaranteed under Article 14 of the constitution.