New Delhi, Saturday, 31 March 2009: The All India Muslim Majlis-e Mushawarat [umbrella body of Indian Muslim organisations] has expressed its dismay at the observation attributed to Supreme Court’s Justice Markandeya Katju while rejecting a Muslim student’s right to sport beard, that “Talibanisation of the country cannot be permitted”. This bizarre and uncalled for opinion flies in the face of the religious, civil and human rights of every Indian citizen guaranteed by our Constitution.
A Muslim’s request to be allowed to grow beard cannot be equated as “Talibanisation” of the country. Justice Katju has further opined that “tomorrow a girl student may come and say that she wants to wear a burqa, can we allow it?” Expression of such opinion from the bench of the Supreme Court is a very serious matter as it is a clear infringement of the religious, civil and human rights of millions Muslims and others who have kept beards and observed purdah, a tradition continuing for over a thousand years in our country, long before anyone heard of the word “Taliban” or its current connotations.
Dr Zafarul-Islam Khan, President of the AIMMM, said that it is very unfortunate that a Supreme Court judge should nurse such biased and communal ideas and hide behind his claim that he is “a secularist to the core”. Our idea of secularism does not deny religious people their right to abide by their religion in a peaceful way which does not hurt anyone else in any way. Rather, true secularism means that the State will not have an official religion and that it will not interfere in the religious beliefs of its citizens.
Dr Khan added that the AIMMM believes that such biased persons should not serve as judges of any court, lower or superior. Such biased minds are not fit to dispense justice which must be neutral and fair. If this logic is true then all similar manifestations by believers in other religions should be banned like turban and kirpan for Sikhs, qashqa and choti for Hindus and wearing of crosses by Christians. Is Judge Katju ready to ban such manifestations too, Dr Khan asked. He said that AIMMM is studying this matter and may decide to appeal against the said opinion expressed by an apex court judge while hearing a legal case involving religious and civil rights.
[All India Muslim Majlis-e Mushawarat is an umbrella body of Indian Muslim organisations]
Dr Zafarul-Islam Khan
ALL INDIA MUSLIM MAJLIS-e-MUSHAWARAT
D-250, Abul Fazal Enclave, Jamia Nagar, New Delhi – 110 025 Phone: 2694 6780 Fax: 2694 7346