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SC directs Christian school to admit beard sporting student

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New Delhi: The Supreme Court Friday permitted a Muslim student, who was sacked by a school in Madhya Pradesh for sporting a beard, to continue his studies in the same institution.


A Bench consisting of Justices B.N. Agrawal and G.S. Singhvi stayed the dismissal order passed by the Nirmala Convent Higher Secondary School, a government-recognised minority institution, on an appeal by the student, Mohammad Salim.


"So you have been dismissed merely because you have a beard," the bench asked Salim's counsel B.A. Khan and added, "It means no Sikh student can sport a beard?"


"Tomorrow they may refuse admission on the colour of the skin also," said the bench terming it as ridiculous.


Following the controversy, Salim had already lost one year, said his counsel.


Salim sought quashing of the school regulation requiring students to be clean shaven. Challenging a Madhya Pradesh High Court verdict which earlier dismissed his plea, he said every citizen was entitled to follow his religious principles.


The bench also issued notice to school authorities and the state government on Salim's lawsuit, which sought scrapping of his school's anti-beards rule contending that it impinges upon his religious faith.


Earlier, on March 30, a Bench headed by Justice Markandey Katju rejected the student’s petition orally observing that secularism could not be overstretched and that “Talibanisation” of the country could not be permitted. Salim sought review of the plea stating the observations on “Talibanisation” caused incalculable damage to the country’s image and the judiciary, besides, hurting Muslim sentiments.


On July 6, Justices R.V. Raveendran and Katju withdrew the March 30 order and directed that the matter be placed before Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishnan for posting it before another Bench. Also, Justice Katju apologized to the Muslims for his controversial remark on July 5 and referred the lawsuit to Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishnan's bench, saying that the matter should be heard by another bench.


Accordingly, the matter was heard Friday by a bench of Justices Agrawal and Singhvi.























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