For some time now, there has been a legal tussle between Maktumhusen, a 34-year-old Muslim jawan from Dharwad in Karnataka and Kochi bench of Armed Forces Tribunal.
The sepoy was in service since 10 years and he sought permission to grow his beard on religious grounds from his commanding officer. The CO allowed him with a few conditions like getting a new identity card and maintaining the same look throughout his career. However the same was revoked based on amendments to Regulation No 665 made in 1991 that allow only Sikhs to sport a beard. Maktumhusen termed it discriminatory and filed a case in the Karnataka High Court.
Meanwhile during his appointment at Command Hospital, Pune he was asked to remove his beard, which he refused and had to face a 14-days detention followed by discharge from service as an undesirable soldier.
The Tribunal refused to bow down to Article 25 of the constitution that says he has the right to grow beard. The tribunal said that having a beard is not among the fundamental tenets of Islam, and that army is a disciplinary force and denominational differences based on religion, caste cannot be permitted.