Punjab and Haryana High Court: While deciding the question that whether prohibiting the entry of an Amritdhari Sikh carrying a Kripan (ceremonial dagger) inside the Courtroom is a violation of the fundamental right to profess and practice one’s religion, the bench of H.S. Sandhu, J., observed that in the absence of any law or valid regulation prohibiting the carrying of a Kirpan in a Court room, the petitioner cannot be restrained from wearing and carrying a kirpan in the Courtroom.
In the present case, the petitioner was a prosecution witness in a case, however he was restrained by the Sessions Judge, Ambala from entering into the Courtroom bearing his Kripan and was directed to remove it if he wanted to appear as a witness. However the petitioner refused to do so citing that carrying a Kripan is one of the 5 major religious practices to be observed in Sikhism and that the petitioner has the fundamental freedom to follow his religious practices.
While deciding the issue, the Court perused the five important ‘kakars’ of Sikhism namely ‘Kesh, Kangha, Kripan, Kachhehra and Kadha’ all of which are mandatory for an Amritdhari Sikh. The Court further perused a plethora of historical literature revealing the necessity of the ‘Kakars’ and referred to Explanation I to Article 25 of the Constitution. The Court further referred to various landmark decisions of the Supreme Court in Bijoe Emmanuel v. State of Kerala, (1986) 3 SCC 615 whereby it was observed that how Article 25 enshrining the freedom to profess religious practices is an “Article of faith in the Constitution”. The Court noticed that wearing and carrying of Kripans by Sikhs is exempted from the provisions of Section 4 of the Arms Act, 1959. Therefore in the light of the aforementioned sources and case laws and Constitutional mandate, the Court observed that at present there is no existing law that prohibits a Sikh from carrying a Kripan, but a Court has an inherent power to ensure orderly conduct of its proceedings and the Presiding Judge has an absolute control of the court domain; however the Constitution being the supreme law of the country, the exercise of the inherent power of the Courts would also be subject to the provisions of the Constitution. The Court held that the Constitution explicitly recognizes the carrying of Kripan as a major religious practice thereby quashing the Order of the Sessions Judge to restrain the petitioner from carrying Kripan in the Courtroom. [Dilawar Singh v. State of Haryana, 2016 SCC OnLine P&H 1442, decided on 16.03.2016]
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