The Supreme Court on Tuesday issued notices to the Centre and Maharashtra government on a plea of a Muslim policeman that he be allowed to exercise his religious right to sport a long beard.
A bench headed by Justice P Sathasivam asked the Centre and the state government to respond within four weeks to the petition of constable Zahiroddin Shamsoddin Bedade, against whom the disciplinary proceedings were initiated almost six months ago for refusing to shave his beard.
Bedade, who joined Maharashtra State Reserve Police Force in 2008 at Jalna, moved the apex court after the Aurangabad bench of the Bombay high court upheld the administrative decision not to allow him to grow the beard.
His lawyer said in some cases, the Centre had earlier allowed Muslim policeman to keep neatly trimmed beard accepting that it is a religious practice.
The constable, in May 2012, was first allowed to keep the beard.
However, owing to the changes in the regulations related to service rules in Maharashtra including keeping of beard, the same commandant, on October 9, 2012, cancelled the permission to grow the beard.
The Aurangabad bench of Bombay high court had dismissed Bedade's plea to keep his beard.