NEW DELHI, May 31 An Indian court upheld a decision by a religious body to deny a female student who plucked her eyebrows admission to a Sikh university, media reports said on Sunday.

The ruling said faith-based educational institutions had the right to refuse admission to students who did not meet religious standards, as “maintaining hair unshorn is an essential component of the Sikh religion,” according to the Press Trust of India.

The policy had been challenged by Gurleen Kaur after she was denied admission to the Sri Guru Ram Das Institute of Medical Sciences and Research in the Sikh holy city of Amritsar.

Ms Kaur was excluded on the grounds that she was not a “true Sikh as she was plucking her eyebrows”, according to the Times of India.

Sikhism requires men and women to keep their hair uncut at all times, and many men sport lengthy beards and wear turbans to cover their long hair.

Ms Kaur's petition was supported by male students who had also been refused admission to the university because they trimmed their beards.

The Punjab and Haryana High Court, which serves both states, said it was “perfectly legitimate” for Sikh organisations to refuse any benefit to members of the community who did not strictly adhere to religious tenets.

Avtar Singh Makkar, the head of the Sikh body which administers the college in Amritsar, said he was happy with the judgment. “Our stand that unshorn hair is of paramount importance for Sikhs has been vindicated,” the Times quoted him as saying.

About 24 million people follow the Sikh faith in India, with a majority of them living in the state of Punjab.—AFP



Updated 19 May, 2022

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