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Delhi High Court: Plea filed against DGCA decision allowing Sikhs to carry Kirpan on flights

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Notices were issued by the Delhi High Court to the Ministry of Civil Aviation (MCA), Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) and DG, Bureau of Civil Aviation Security on a plea challenging government’s decision to allow Sikhs to carry kirpans on domestic flights.

Division Bench of Chief Justice Satish Chandra Sharma and Justice Subramonium Prasad have given 8 weeks time to the authorities for filing their response and listed the case for further consideration on November 15.

The court has refused to pass any interim order staying the notification as of now.The petitioner has been instructed by the court to delete the Cabinet Secretary from the array of parties.

The public interest litigation (PIL) was by filed by advocate Harsh Vibhore Singhal who  challenged the notification dated March 4, 2022 issued by the DGCA giving ‘exceptions to the people belonging to Sikh community for carrying kripan in flights.

The notification said that Sikhs will be allowed to carry a kirpan provided the length of its blade does not exceed six inches and its total length is not more than nine inches. A corrigendum was later issued allowing even Sikhs working at the airports to carry kirpan.

The plea argues that carrying kirpan in an aircraft has dangerous ramification for aviation safety and that there have been several instances in the past where they have used as a weapon to hijack the planes.The examples of 1981 and 1984 were cited to support the matter.

The plea cited the examples of 1981 and 1984 when such hijacking was carried out and the militants demanded release of prisoners arrested by the government.

The plea inquired that if carrying kirpan is ok only because of religion then, one would wonder how knitting needles, coconuts, screwdrivers and small penknives are deemed hazardous and prohibited.

The plea says “…the exception is not just for Indian citizens. Impugned Notifications do not distinguish applicability to Sikh Indian citizens and Sikhs from other nations can carry Kirpans on person whilst travelling in any Indian plane on domestic routes in India though laws of their respective countries may prohibit carrying of Kirpans in civilian flights there.

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