Ridiculous to expel Muslim student with beard: SC


NEW DELHI: TNN 12 September 2009, 01:30am IST

The Supreme Court on Friday severely reprimanded a convent school in Vidisha in Madhya Pradesh for expelling a Muslim student for his refusal to shave his beard, an alleged disobedience which cost him an academic year.

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Asking the principal of Nirmala Convent School to immediately take back the student, Mohammad Salim, a Bench comprising Justices B N Agrawal and G S Singhvi expressed its deep anguish at such ridiculous rules framed by schools.

Agreeing with Salim’s counsel senior advocate B A Khan, the Bench said: “How on earth could a school disentitle a student from pursuing studies just because he has kept a beard?” “Then there will be no end to such prima facie ridiculous rules. Tomorrow the school authorities would say they would not allow entry to students who are not fair in complexion,” wondered the Bench. The Bench also appeared quite in sync with the present fashion trends. “These days it is a fashion for youngsters to sport an earring. Can these boys be denied admission to a school?”

The Bench asked before issuing notice to the principal of the convent school and directing it to allow Salim to continue with his studies there. The case had a roller coaster ride in the judiciary. His plea against the “ridiculous” no-beard rule of the school was dismissed by the MP High Court, against which he had appealed in the Supreme Court.

In the SC, he was in for a rude jolt as on April 30 this year a Bench comprising Justices R V Raveendran and Markandey Katju had not only dismissed his appeal, but peppered him with the now infamous “Talibanisation” comment. But, the Bench was quick to regret its comments and on July 6 it had recalled its order along with an apology for the unwarranted comment. Salim had sought quashing of a regulation of Nirmala Convent Higher Secondary School, a government-recognised minority institution in Madhya Pradesh, that required students to be clean-shaven.

It may be remembered that- This case gained Controversy when One its Judge passed derogatory remarks against Beard.

NEWS -Under criticism from Mulsim groups, Supreme Court judge Justice Markandeya Katju apologised for his controversial comments that Muslim students cannot insist on sporting beards as it would lead to ‘Talibanisation’ of the country.

A bench of Justices R V Raveendran and Markandeya Katju also withdrew the order passed by it on March 30 in which it had dismissed the petition filed by a student challenging the directive of a convent school in Madhya Pradesh that Muslims cannot sport beard.

“During the hearing, certain observations were made by one of us (Justice Markandeya Katju). His intentions were not to offend anyone. However, if any one’s feeling has been hurt, he apologises and expresses regret in the matter,” the bench said in an order.

The apex court said since the petitioner Mohd Saleem had expressed apprehension that one of the judges (Katju) was biased it was requesting the Chief Justice of India to place the matter before another bench for hearing.

“The review petition expresses apprehension that one of the judges was biased against the petitioner. We are of the view that the matter should be heard by another bench. We therefore, withdraw the order of March 30, 2009,” the apex court said while referring the matter to another bench for a fresh hearing.

Nirmala Convent High School, Vidisha, Madhya Pradesh, had removed Mohd Saleem, a 10th class student, after he refused to shave his beard on the ground that it was mandatory in Islam.

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