The Allahabad High Court has refused to allow a suspended Muslim policeman keep a beard while in service, saying it violates official orders and he can’t seek protection under Article 25 of the Constitution.
The Lucknow Bench of Justice Rajesh Singh Chauhan passed the order on a writ petition filed by police constable Mohd Farman, who was suspended in November last year for maintaining a beard despite being told to shave it.
The state DGP had issued a circular on October 26, 2020, prohibiting policemen to keep a beard.
The constable had approached the court against his suspension, seeking that he be allowed to keep a beard, citing Article 25, which deals with freedom of religion.
Passing the order, the HC Bench said not shaving a beard despite being given directions by higher officials is a violation of the circular by the Director General of Police and as such is not only a wrong behaviour but also the misdemeanour, misdeed and delinquency of the cop.
Observing that keeping a beard by a member of a disciplined force may not be protected under Article 25, the Bench held, “This is a domain of competent authority to issue guidelines in respect of wearing proper uniform and keeping the appearance in a manner required for the members of a disciplined force and no interference should be done.”
Rebutting the plea that maintaining a beard is a fundamental right of the petitioner, the Bench said Article 25 of the Constitution of India does not confer absolute right in this regard.
“All rights have to be viewed in the context and letter and spirit in which they have been framed under the Constitution. As a matter of fact rights guaranteed under Article 25 of the Constitution of India have inbuilt restrictions,” it said.
Dismissing the petition on August 12, the Bench directed the authorities to conduct and conclude the departmental inquiry against the petitioner in accordance with law.