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Delhi HC reserves order on plea against carrying of Kirpans in flights

Written by  Shgun S -- December 15th 2022 06:25 PM
Delhi HC reserves order on plea against carrying of Kirpans in flights

Delhi HC reserves order on plea against carrying of Kirpans in flights

New Delhi, December 15: On a petition challenging the notification allowing Sikhs to carry Kirpan while travelling on domestic flights in India, the Delhi High Court on Thursday decided to reserve its order.

Previously, the Court had sought a response from the Central Government and others involved in the case. On Thursday, the bench of Justice Satish Chander Mishra and Justice Subramonium Prasad decided to reserve the order in the case and said it would pass the appropriate order later.

According to petitioner Harsh Vibhor Singhal, the notification stated that Sikhs shall have exceptional regulatory sanction to carry Kirpan on person whilst on board any civilian flight in India that is operating in India. The notification was issued by the Director General, Bureau of Civil Aviation Security, Government of India on March 4, 2022.

The petition further said it was notified that "a Kirpan may be carried only by a Sikh passenger and 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."

"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," the notification added.

By means of a corrigendum of March 12, 2022, to the impugned notification the Bureau of Civil Aviation Security rescinded this bar and allowed Sikhs to carry Kirpans on their person while working at any domestic or international airport terminal in India.

The petition then sought a direction to declare the said Corrigendum as an ultra virus.

"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 argued.

It further said that 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."

It was also stated that the exemption does not apply merely to Indian citizens. The contested notification makes no distinction between Sikh Indian citizens and Sikhs from other countries carrying Kirpans in person while travelling in any Indian plane on domestic routes in India, despite the fact that the laws of their respective countries may prohibit carrying Kirpans in civilian flights there.

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