Tue, 26 Sep 2023

New Delhi [India], August 18 (ANI): The Delhi High Court on Thursday issued notice to the Central Government and others on a plea challenging the notification allowing Sikhs to carry Kirpan on board any civilian flights in India.

This notification said that Sikhs shall have exceptional regulatory sanction to carry Kirpan in person whilst on board any civilian flight that is operating in India.

The notification was issued on March 4, 2022, by the Director General, Bureau of Civil Aviation Security, Government of India.

The division bench headed by Chief Justice Satish Chandra Sharma issued notice to the Central Government and other respondents on the petition moved by lawyer-petitioner Harsh Vibhore Singhal. The matter has been listed on December 15, 2022, for further hearing.

The petition has stated that it was notified that "A Kirpan may be carried only by a Sikh passenger, on his person, provided the length of its blade does not exceed 6 inches and total length of Kirpan does not exceed 9 inches. It is allowed while travelling by air on Indian aircraft within India only.

It is also stated that it was notified that this exception shall be for Sikh passengers only and no stakeholders or its employees at any airport (including Sikhs) and working in any terminal, domestic or international, shall be allowed to carry Kirpan.

"By means of a corrigendum of March 12, 2022, to the impugned notification the Bureau of Civil Aviation Security rescinded this bar thereby giving regulatory permission to Sikhs to carry Kirpans on their person while working at any domestic or international airport terminal in India.

The petition has sought a direction to declare the said Corrigendum as ultra vires.

It is perplexing and bewildering how the preamble to the impugned notification can aver that carriage of Kirpans inside the aircraft is for purpose of safety of passengers, crew, aircraft, ground personnel and the general public in all matters related to safeguarding against acts of unlawful interference with civil aviation, the petition said.

It is also said that such a statement of the object is ludicrous since the carriage of Kirpans in a civilian aircraft has dangerous ramifications for aviation safety.

If Kirpans are deemed safe only because of religion, one wonders how knitting/crochet needles, coconut, screwdrivers and small pen knives etc. are deemed hazardous and prohibited, the petition read.

It is also stated that the exception is not only for Indian citizens.

The impugned notification does not distinguish applicability to Sikh Indian citizens and Sikhs from other nations can carry Kirpans in person whilst travelling in any Indian plane on domestic routes in India though the laws of their respective countries may prohibit carrying of Kirpans in civilian flights there.

The petitioners also sought direction for the constitution of an Empowered Working Committee tasked to examine pragmatic and workable solutions to ensure that the sanctity of religious expression of the carriage of Kirpans on person in public places is suitably protected but by carriage of appropriately designed and crafted, manufactured and retailed symbolic Kirpans made of steel but not beyond 4cm blade length and similar hilt to disable a hand grip without any sharp sides or pointed tips or made of materials as ornately crafted wood, wrought iron or plastic specifications that cannot be misused while being carried on person in any civilian flight without hurting the sentiments and religious beliefs of the Sikh community. (ANI)

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