Delhi High Court seeks Centre’s stand on allowing Kirpan on flights

Permitting kirpans on flights, the petition argued, would have “dangerous ramifications for aviation safety”.

Permitting kirpans on flights, the petition argued, would have “dangerous ramifications for aviation safety”. | Photo Credit: FILE PHOTO

The Delhi High Court on Thursday sought a response from the Centre and the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) on a petition challenging a notification that allows Sikhs to carry kirpans, having a blade length of up to six inches, on domestic flights.

A Bench of Chief Justice Satish Chandra Sharma and Justice Subramonium Prasad also declined to pass an interim order staying the March 4, 2002 notification by the Centre.

The petition by advocate Harsh Vibhore Singhal stated that permitting kirpans on flights, in terms of the presently permissible dimensions, has “dangerous ramifications for aviation safety” and “if kirpans are deemed safe only because of religion, one wonders how knitting/crochet needles, coconuts, screwdrivers, and small pen knives, etc. are deemed hazardous and prohibited”.

“Regardless of a contrary perception, a kirpan remains a blade used in hundreds of homicides with scores of murder cases adjudicated by even the Supreme Court. Thus, kirpans can cause havoc in the skies reducing aviation safety to a nullity,” the petition said.

The petitioner said he was “concerned at the whimsical and nonchalant manner” in which the authorities “flippantly and most complacently shrugged off historical lessons surrounding civil aviation safety and security protocols by giving a blanket regulatory approval to the unrestricted and unsupervised carriage of dangerous articles on the person of a certain section of air travellers (based upon religion)”.

“While the exception made for Sikh travellers limits the length of a kirpan to a maximum blade length of 15.24 cms (6”) with a total length of 22.86 cms (9”) including hilt length of 3”, it is silent on the maximum width and thickness of the blade starting at the hilt and tapering gradually till the pointed tip, the plea said.

“It is a matter of elementary physics that a blade with narrow width at the base is less lethal in capacity to pierce, chop, cut or slice as compared to thicker broader bases gradually tapering to the pointed tips,” the plea added.

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Printable version | Aug 19, 2022 1:33:15 am |