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Delhi HC dismisses plea against Sikhs carrying kirpans on flights

New Delhi: The Delhi High Court on Thursday dismissed a plea opposing the permission given to Sikhs to carry kirpans while travelling on civilian flights in India.

The plea, filed in a form of public interest litigation (PIL) by lawyer Harsh Vibhore Singhal, challenged the Centre’s notification issued on March 4 allowing Sikh passengers to carry kirpans having blade length of no more than six inches and total length of no more than nine inches while travelling anywhere in India.

On December 15, the HC reserved its order on the plea.

A division bench of Chief Justice Satish Chandra Sharma and Justice Subramonium Prasad had said: “How can we interfere with such a policy decision? We can’t interfere. It is a policy decision of the Government of India.”

The petitioner had claimed that a committee of stakeholders should be constituted to apply its mind to the issue.

At this, the court had said: “Your mind might not be the government’s mind. Therefore when the government has applied its mind and has come with a policy, we ought not to interfere unless it is so arbitrary.”

The court had also refused to entertain submissions by certain parties as their applications were not on record.

The plaintiff had said that he was not questioning the rights of Sikhs but only wanted the stakeholders to examine the issue.

He had said: “I admit that Article 25 allows the carriage of a kirpan. But when you are flying, the regulator must apply its mind. I want a constitution of a committee of stakeholders to examine the issue. If the committee feels that the notification is good, so be it. Not a problem.”

Defending his argument, he argued that the Bureau of Civil Aviation Security has not formulated the policy but was only following what the government has said.

“Safety measures, including stationing of marshals, have been put in place by the authorities,” advocate Anjana Gosain had said, representing the respondents.

On August 18, the court had refused to pass an interim order staying the operation of the decision allowing Sikhs to carry kirpans having a blade length of up to six inches on flights.

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