Govt examining whether Muslim NCC cadets can sport beard

Defence Ministry is examining the recommendation of Andhra Pradesh State Minorities Commission to allow Muslim cadets in National Cadet Corps (NCC) to sport beard on the lines of the exemption given to Sikh community, Commission chairman Abid Rasool Khan said today.

On a petition by some Muslim cadets who were barred from NCC for sporting a beard, the AP State Minorities Commission had asked the Defence Ministry to make the exemption, granted to Sikh community, applicable to Muslims too.

“The recommendations were discussed in Rajya Sabha on December 2 by way of answer submitted by Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar, who has replied that this matter (recommendations) of the State Minorities Commission is being examined by the Ministry and necessary orders will be passed,” Khan told reporters here.

He expressed the hope that the government will pass necessary orders after taking note of the recommendations of the Commission.

“It will be a great achievement for the Commission and an important milestone in the history of India, and if orders are passed as per the recommendations of the Commission then any Muslim will get parity with Sikhs to sport beard in para military services,” Khan said.

Earlier, the Commission had issued notices to Director General NCC and stated that sporting beard is fundamentally ordained in the tenets of Islam.

The Commission had, accordingly, recommended to central government that such a regulation barring the Muslim cadets from undergoing training is deemed as infringing upon their right to freedom and liberty, and had recommended that the Muslims be allowed to sport beard on lines of the exemption given to the Sikh community.

Subsequently, officials representing NCC and Ministry of Defence, who appeared before the Commission, cited Defence regulations which prohibited facial hair and said they were applicable to NCC too, Khan said.