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SC query on importance of turban irks Sikh bodies

The Supreme Court on Friday asked is wearing a turban integral to Sikh religion after a Delhi-based cyclist Jagdeep Singh Puri, challenged a local cycling association’s rules that required him to wear a helmet to participate in a competition.

Edited by: India TV News Desk, New Delhi [ Updated: April 23, 2018 8:25 IST ]

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The Supreme Court's query on the importance of turban in Sikhism has irked the religious sect. The Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) has asked the apex court not divulge in the religious matters, while Haryana Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee (HSGMC) urged the Centre to intervene in the issue. 

The Sikh bodies argued that the turban was an integral part of the Sikh attire, which is clearly mentioned in the Sikh code of religious conduct. Forcing Sikh players to wear any other protective headgear is not right, TOI quoted SGPC president Gobind Singh Longowal as saying.

Seeking an expedited submission by the Centre to SC in the case, HSGMC president Jagdish Singh Jhinda on Sunday said the turban was an integral part of Sikhism and no controversy should be associated with it. 

"I will take up the matter the Jathedar of Akal Takht, Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC), Delhi SGPC and other Sikh organisations to come together on the issue. Turban is an emotional issue for any devotes Sikh as it is an unchallenged religious symbol," Jhinda told Tribune.

The Supreme Court on Friday asked is wearing a turban integral to Sikh religion after a Delhi-based cyclist Jagdeep Singh Puri, challenged a local cycling association’s rules that required him to wear a helmet to participate in a competition.

Puri (50) moved the petition with the plea that he cannot wear a helmet because it’s mandatory for him to wear a turban as per the Sikh religion. Puri moved before the SC after he was disqualified from the Azad Hind Brevet (long distance cycling) organized by Audax India Randonneurs (AIR), after he refused to wear to helmet since he was wearing a turban. He complained that the rule violated his fundamental right to practise and profess one’s own religion guaranteed under Article 25 of the Constitution.

A bench of justices SA Bodbe and LN Rao wondered whether wearing a turban was necessary under the religion or just covering one’s head was. They referred to sportspersons from the Sikh community like Bishen Singh Bedi and Milkha Singh who didn’t wear turbans while participating in games.

The bench has asked Puri's counsel to bring an authority on turban as it 'wants to know whether it’s an essential part of your (religious) practice'. Next hearing is fixed for today. 

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