Saturday, 20 June, 2009

Punjab and Haryana HC accepts SGPC definition of 'Sikh'



Punjab and Haryana HC accepts SGPC definition of 'Sikh'

Punjab and Haryana High Court accepted the definition of Sikh as mooted byShiromani Gurdawara Parbhandak Committee(SGPC) and ruled that persons withshorn hair can't be described Sikh.
Observing that keeping hair unshorn is an essential component of the Sikhfaith, the Punjab and Haryana High Court Saturday upheld denial of admission tosome students to a medical college on grounds of having plucked eyebrows or trimmedbeard.
"Having dealt with the historical background of the Sikh religion, thelegislative enactments and views expressed by scholars, we are satisfied allthis leads to one unambiguous answer that maintaining hair unshorn is anessential component of the Sikh religion," the Court said.
Making these observations, a Division Bench dismissed a writ petition filed by Gurleen Kaur and other students who were denied admission to a medical college on grounds of having plucked eyebrows or trimmed beard. The bench observed that Gurleen Kaur who plucked her eye brows cant calim a seat in SGPC run college under seats reserved for Sikh students. In SGPC managed colleges 50 percent seats are reserved for Sikh students. The Bench comprising Justice J S Khehar, Justice Jasbir Singh and Justice Ajay Kumar Mittal ruled the Sikh minority quota could be restricted to candidates maintaining "Sikhi Swarup" or keeping their hair unshorn. It said "the Sikh rehat-maryada (religious sanctity) requires Sikhs to keep their hair unshorn and even an act of dishonouring hair is taken as a taboo. An act of dyeing one's hair is treated as an act of dishonouring hair." Maintaining that "hair unshorn is a part of the religious consciousness of the Sikh faith", the Court said if the religious community wishes to enforce the aforesaid norm as a pre-condition for admission, there is nothing wrong in this. The High Court observed that importance of hair in Sikh religious is clear in Rehat Maryada. The court said that there is no stream like 'Sehajdhari Sikhs' in the Sikh religion. The court also recorded that certain Sikh organisation have written letters that courts have no right to examine the religious affairs. The HC ruled that court have every right to examine the definition of a religion.

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