The Delhi High Court on Tuesday sought a response from the Centre, the AAP government and the police on a PIL (public interest litigation) seeking directions to them to allow Sikhs to carry the ‘kirpan’ and the ‘kara’ in public places.
The PIL by the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee (DSGMC) has contended that there was a violation of the fundamental right under the Constitution’s Article 25 of an 18-year-old Sikh youth, who was denied entry into the Red Fort on Independence Day this year when he went there to hear the Prime Minister’s speech as he was wearing a ‘kirpan’ and ‘kara’.
A Bench of Chief Justice Rajendra Menon and Justice VK Rao issued notices to the ministries of Home Affairs and Defence as well as the Delhi government and the police, seeking their stand on the plea by March 27, the next date of hearing.
The petition by the DSGMC has sought directions to the authorities to treat the rights of Sikhs to wear the ‘kirpan’ and ‘kara’ as part of their individual identity and part of the fundamental right to practise one’s religion under Article 25.
It has sought directions to the authorities to sensitise the security agencies and the police about the religious rights available under the Constitution to Sikhs.
It contended that Sikhs are allowed to carry the ‘kirpan’ and ‘kara’ on airplanes and sought framing of guidelines which would balance the security concerns and the enforcement of the fundamental right to profess any religion, as enshrined in the Constitution.
Central Government standing counsel Ripudaman Singh Bhardwaj, appearing for the ministries, accepted the notice and said he would file a counter affidavit before the next date of hearing.
Sikh body: security forces need to be sensitised about kirpan, kara
Reacting to the Delhi High Court notice seeking response of the Centre, the AAP government and the police on a PIL seeking directions to them to allow Sikhs to carry a ‘kirpan’ (a small knife) and ‘kara’ (bracelet) in public places, Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee chief Manjit Singh G.K. proposed the adoption of a sensitising programme in security forces.
Welcoming the Delhi High Court’s notice, Mr. Singh contended that the kirpan and the kara form a part of their religious identity and are not just symbols but articles of faith.
Rebuking security forces for constant violation of the community’s constitutional rights, Mr. Singh said the PIL by the DSGMC was initiated after 18-year-old Jasprit Singh, who had travelled from Jaipur to Delhi to hear the PM’s speech on Independence Day, was denied entry to Red Fort on account of his carrying the kirpan.
He went on to add that there were also cases of security forces stopping Sikh students from entering the exam hall during NEET medical entrance exams.
“Security agencies are not aware of the religious sentiments involved in prohibiting the carrying of dagger in public spaces. This is not to undermine security concerns. The solution is to balance protection with the community’s constitutional right,” he said.
Article 25 of the Constitution allows every citizen to practice and propagate any religion, said Mr. Singh.
The High Court has sought replies by March 27, the next date of hearing.