NEW DELHI—A Supreme Court bench comprising justices SA Bodbe and LN Rao on April 20 asked a question to a petitioner that whether wearing a turban was necessary under the Sikh religion or just covering one’s head was enough. The bench was hearing a petition challenging a local cycling association’s rules that mandated a 50 years old Delhi based cyclist Jagdeep Singh Puri to wear a helmet to participate in a competition.
“We have sympathy for the cause. But have you showed us anything that makes it mandatory under Sikh religion to wear a turban only? For example Bishen Singh Bedi played cricket while simply covering his head. He never wore a turban. And what do soldiers do in battles? Don’t they wear helmets? You basically need to define what is a turban?,” the bench told Puri’s counsel, RS Suri.
Although the lawyer tried to convince the bench by saying that the Central Motor Vehicle Act grants exemption to Sikhs from wearing helmets while driving a two-wheeler but the SC bench further depicted a biased mind-set by excusing that great Sikh sports persons have never worn a turban. “It seems to us that wearing a turban is not mandatory but covering your head is,” the bench further argued.
A sharp outrage has prevailed among the worldwide Sikh masses after surfacing of news about Supreme Court’s query on Turban.
Sharply reacting to SC’s query, the SGPC president Gobind Singh Longowal has said that it is unfair to force Sikh players to wear helmet in place of turban which is an integral part of the Sikh religion. “During both world wars, Sikh soldiers fought wearing turbans. In the history of free India, there has been a turbaned president and prime minister. In foreign countries, turbaned Sikhs have got key positions in governments,” he said.
SAD (Delhi) president Paramjit Sarna has also reacted by questioning that what right does the Supreme Court or as a matter of fact anyone has to put a question mark on the proud symbol of Sikh identity.
Advocate Jaswinder Singh, who is president of a Sikh body named Akal Purakh Ki Fauj, said: “Judges’ comments are very disheartening. They are citing the example of Milkha Singh and Bishan Singh Bedi for not wearing turban to encourage Sikhs to sport patkas. They need to understand the sentiments of community while addressing any religious issue.”Sikh24 Editors can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org