India

Is size of turban part of Sikh religion, asks Supreme Court

Cyclist Puri was recently disqualified after he refused to wear a helmet.

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Friday sought to know if the topknot/half or bun turban (patka) can be worn by Sikh athletes with helmets during participation in sporting events such as cycling, if it doesn’t affect their faith.

A Bench of Justice SA. Bobde and Justice L Nageswara Rao said that in India many great athletes played with bun turban (patka) and suggested that if a Sikh wants to participate in events like cycling, where wearing a helmet is a must, he can consider wearing a bun turban with helmet for safety issue.

“We are hesitant because of safety, otherwise it’s very clear that Sikhs don’t have to wear helmets,” said the Bench, adding that it wanted to know if a particular size of turban is compulsory in the religion.

The court also observed: “We have memories of some great Sikh athletes performing without a turban like Milkha Singh, Bishan Singh Bedi. It’s not like Sikh don’t do anything without a whole turban.”

The court, which was hearing a plea of Delhi-based cyclist Jagdeep Singh Puri, who was allegedly disqualified for a cycling event after he refused to wear a helmet instead of a turban, suggested that if a half/bun turban with a helmet completes the safety requirement, it can be considered “if it doesn’t affect their faith”.

The size of the turban can’t be part of their (Sikh) religion, the court observed. It further asked: “The legal problem is if different types of turbans are permissible then is there prohibition in wearing a helmet?”

Counsel for Puri replied that a Sikh cannot wear a helmet because it’s mandatory for him to wear a turban as per the Sikh religion.

We are hesitant because of safety, otherwise it’s very clear that Sikhs don’t have to wear helmets. We have memories of some great Sikh athletes performing without a turban like Milkha Singh, Bishan Singh Bedi. It’s not like Sikh don’t do anything without a whole turban  -SC Bench 

 

 

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