Air Force personnel can't sport beard, rules Supreme Court

The top court rejected a Muslim man's plea to be allowed to sport a beard while on duty and said, air force personnel will not be allowed to carry a beard.

The Supreme Court on Thursday dismissed a petition of a Muslim man and ruled that an air force personnel was not allowed to sport a beard during service.

The decision came in response to a plea filed by a dismissed IAF personnel Ansari Aftab Ahmed in 2008 who had challenged the IAF’s policy to not allow Muslim personnel to sport a beard.

Aftab Ahmed who was discharged from service back then had moved the Supreme Court asserting that keeping a beard was his fundamental right to freedom of religion and demanded equal rights as Sikhs who were in fact given permission to sport unshorn hair and turban.

The IAF on their part had said that it cannot be said that the Muslim religion forbids shaving off the face of its member since all Muslims men do not sport a beard. They further claimed that the practice of sporting a beard was optional and not a compulsory norm.

However, then Union Defence Minister A K Antony had said that there was no restriction on Muslim beard and that no action should be taken against the Muslim personnel who wish to grow a beard.