Delhi High Court Dismisses PIL Against Permission To Sikhs To Carry 'Kirpans' On Flights
The Delhi High Court today dismissed a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) against the permission accorded to Sikhs to carry 'kirpans' while travelling on civilian flights in India.
"Dismissed," a Bench of Chief Justice Satish Chandra Sharma and Justice Subramonium Prasad said while pronouncing the Order.
The Court rejected the plea by Harsh Vibhore Singhal, who had claimed that a committee of stakeholders should be constituted to "apply its mind" to the issue of permitting kripan on flights.
The petitioner, a lawyer, challenged a March 4, 2022 notification by the Centre which said Sikh passengers shall have exceptional regulatory sanction to carry kirpans having blade length of not more than six inches and total length of not more than nine inches whilst on board any civilian flight in India that is operating on all domestic routes.
The Bench had earlier orally remarked that it was a policy of the government of India and the court cannot interfere with it unless it is arbitrary.
The petitioner contended that he was "not questioning" the right to profess and practice a religion under Article 25 of the Constitution but only wanted the constitution of a committee of stakeholders to examine the issue.
"I admit that Article 25 allows the carriage of a kirpan. But when you are flying, the regulator must apply its mind. I want 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," he had said.
The petitioner also said that as per the counter affidavit by the Bureau of Civil Aviation Security, it has not formulated the policy but was following what the government has said.
He also clarified that his intention was not to give a political overtone. The counsel for the authorities had said that safety measures have been put in place by the authorities, including stationing marshals.
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 while travelling on domestic flights.
The petition has said that permitting kirpans on flights, in terms of the presently permissible dimensions, has "dangerous ramifications for aviation safety" and "if kirpans are deemed safe only because of religion, one wonders how knitting/crochet needles, coconuts, screwdrivers, and small pen knives, etc. are deemed hazardous and prohibited".
With PTI inputs