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HC: Courts can decide religious conflicts

Discussion in 'Hard Talk' started by Archived_Member16, May 31, 2009.

  1. Archived_Member16

    Archived_Member16
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    HC: Courts can decide religious conflicts
    ‘Unshorn hair essential component of Sikhism’
    Saurabh Malik
    Tribune News Service


    Chandigarh, May 30
    A Full Bench of the Punjab and Haryana High Court today held that courts could enter into “religious thicket” in case of a conflict


    Comprising Justice JS Khehar, Justice Jasbir Singh and Justice Ajay Kumar Mittal, the Bench also concluded that “maintaining hair unshorn was an essential component of the Sikh religion”; and that admissions under the Sikh minority community quota could be restricted to candidates maintaining “Sikhi swarup” or keeping their hair unshorn.

    Asserted the Bench: “In the process of analysis we were persuaded to conclude that a court, in case of a conflict, even on an aspect relating to religion, can enter into the religious thicket to determine the do’s and dont’s of the religion by relying upon the views expressed by the spokespersons of the said religion…”

    “Religion must be perceived as it is, and not as another would like it to be… Once a court arrives at the conclusion that a particular aspect of a religion is fundamental and integral, as per the followers of the faith, it must be given effect to, irrespective of the views expressed on the said issue, based either on science or logic… It is not for the court to determine whether it is forward looking or retrograde.” Following are the Bench assertions on various issues.

    Sikhism and law
    The Gurdwara Acts of 1925 and 1971 are legislative enactments, which have withstood the test of time, wherein ‘keshadhari’ (a Sikh who maintains hair unshorn) has been incorporated as the fundamental precondition for being vested with the right to be included even in the electoral rolls.

    Sikh and hair
    Dismissing a petition filed by Gurleen Kaur and other students denied admission to a medical college on the grounds of plucking eyebrows or trimming beard, the Bench, in its 154-page judgment, asserted: “Having dealt with the historical background of the Sikh religion, legislative enactments involving the Sikh religion, the Sikh ‘rehatmaryada’, the Sikh ardas and views expressed by scholars of Sikhism, we are satisfied they all lead to one unambiguous answer: maintaining hair unshorn is an essential component of the Sikh religion.”

    Guru Granth Sahib and Sikhism
    Guru Granth Sahib has not expressly dealt with the issue of unshorn hair. Guru Granth Sahib is a treatise, limited to the teaching of the moral and spiritual code of conduct to the Sikhs. The Guru Granth Sahib is for the guidance of Sikhs in their pursuit towards spiritual salvation. It does not deal with the code of conduct prescribed for Sikhs. The code of conduct is strictly contained in the “Sikh rehatmaryada…

    Institute’s right to deny admission
    If a Sikh organisation or body decides not to extend any benefit, which is otherwise available to a Sikh, to a person who does not maintain his hair unshorn, its determination would be perfectly legitimate… Maintaining hair unshorn is part of the religious consciousness of the Sikh faith.

    Religion and law
    The Bench asserted that besides legality, the issue of trimming beard and plucking eyebrows was to be examined vis-à-vis religion. The action attributed to the petitioners is certainly not in conflict with law.
    But then the question to be determined is whether their actions are in conflict with the tenets of the religion, on the basis whereof they are claiming their right. For an issue of religion, an action cannot be bestowed with legitimacy merely because the action is forward-looking and non-fundamentalist.
     
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  3. Tejwant Singh

    Tejwant Singh United States
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    Interesting viewpoint of the court. The court only mentioned about trimming beard and plucking eyebrows.

    1.Are plucking and waxing one and the same or different?

    2.How about those Sikhs who have full beards and moustaches but love to pluck both out of habit?

    3.Does it mention anything about shaving or waxing legs?

    4.What happens if a girl does not pluck her eyebrows but waxes or shaves her legs, would she be allowed admission in a medical college or other benefits alloted to Sikhs?

    Tejwant Singh
     
  4. Gyani Jarnail Singh

    Gyani Jarnail Singh Malaysia
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    Tejwant Singh Ji,
    Gurfateh.

    1. imho..plucking...waxing..is removal of hair. From what i understand..plucking is done one hair by one Hair..Waxing..is apply wax and pull OUT all the waxed hair at one go...( Ow..its painful !! if going by the expression i saw on a girl's face when she did that).
    2. Yes many Sikhs..men and women have the habit of plucking out "Whites"....!!! have seen it myself
    3. Removal of hair on any part of the body is mentioned in the Rehat maryada...the Exact Word used is.
    "BEADBEE of ROM"....the word BEADBEE means DISHONOURING..and the word ROM covers all Hair !! every single one on ahuman body regardeless of where it is....
    4. So based on 3...........NO.

    5. Many Orthodox sikhs will also go for RE-AMRIT/PESH before the Panj Piayars... after giving BIRTH..as some ROMs are sometimes removed by the surgeon. This applies to any surgery....as hair will inevitably get cut/removed...BUT even Natural Birth may constitute Roman de beadbi.

    IN British Times..it was the British Officer who used to carry out a weekly CHECK UP of his SIKHS..to ensure they complied with the Sikh rehat maryada...any rom found beadbi...or kacherra etc dirty/not worn..kirpan missing etc the Faujee would be Punished. To the British..a Sikh not completley LOYAL to his GURU couldnt be trusted.....looks like now the COURTS are going to be the "ultimate checkers"...???
     
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  5. Tejwant Singh

    Tejwant Singh United States
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    Gyani ji,

    Guru Fateh.

    Thanks for the explanations and I totally agree with you. My question was more a rhetorical one as this decision by the Court is for the admission in schools, colleges and other benefits for the Sikhs, not as a spiritual journey. Hence, I wanted to know how they would find out if women shaved or waxed their legs before allowing them to be admitted when they are wearing Salwars if they did not pluck their eyebrows and secondly how about those pooran Gursikhs who pluck their moustaches and beards, would they be allowed all the benefits?

    Tejwant Singh
     
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  6. spnadmin

    spnadmin United States
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    Tejwant ji :D:D:D It is hilarious in a way. Maybe they will have weekly checks....:unsure: It is hard to tell. The court seems to have put things into a logical framework....A Sikh institution can set its rules according to its rehit. The court did not question or support any spiritual authority but did affirm the legal standing of the defendants, in this case Sikh institutions. Their decision not wandering outside of the issues placed before them.
     
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  7. Tejwant Singh

    Tejwant Singh United States
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    Antonia ji,

    Guru Fateh.

    I personally think it is a great and a bold decision and a good start which will help define Sikhi appearance and which in result may help Sikhs, after keeping the Sikh appearance to seek and live by the Sikh code of conduct with the help of SGGS. It defines how to be ready to start the Sikhi journey by determining who can get on the Sikh train in the State of Punjab where Sikhi has lots its sheen.

    This decision may force people to have the inner quest outside Punjab and around the world to keep Sikhi saroop. I hope it does.

    Tejwant Singh
     
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  8. Gyani Jarnail Singh

    Gyani Jarnail Singh Malaysia
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    YES.. if not for "spirtual Journey"..then at least for the Commercial benefits....hopefully after a few years of keeping hair for the sole chance of study at a sikh college/uni...they "may" discover sikhi for what it really is...( or then...maybe not..)
    IN Malaysia we have SIKH Education FUNDS which gives out monetary benefits to help students finance their education...and one of the rules is full sikhi sroop..so many get into that sroop...UNTIL they graduate....then its Goodbye sikhi sroop..and also no more paying back the money taken as well !!!..shows that one cannot really control anyone...it just has to be PERSONAL CONVICTION.
     

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