IndiGo pilot requests right to carry religious knife at airports and on planes

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An IndiGo pilot is requesting a court issues a directive to the Indian government and airlines to ensure he can freely carry a religious Sikh knife at airports and while flying commercial aircraft.  

In a petition to an Indian court, the IndiGo pilot stated that under Article 25 of the country’s constitution he has the right to freely express his religion and carry a small, curved knife known as a kirpan. 

According to the Indian Express, on December 11, 2023, the Nagpur bench of the Bombay High Court issued a notice to the Ministry of Civil Aviation, Director General of the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF), and Bureau of Civil Aviation Security, detailing the IndiGo pilot’s plea.     

On March 4, 2022, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) said that Sikh passengers would be allowed to carry a kirpan on domestic flights, if the blade was no longer than six inches.  

An amendment was even added on March 12, 2023, that additionally allowed Sikhs working at airports to carry kirpans.  

However, despite the correction, the pilot claims that the CISF are still not allowing him to carry his kirpan inside airports and that the religious article had also been confiscated. 

“The very act of the respondents in not permitting the petitioner to carry kirpan while travelling even when passengers are allowed to carry the same is logic or reasoning as it is easier to control and monitor the actions of the stakeholders and employees such as the petitioner rather than to monitor the passengers who are travelling in the flight,” the pilot wrote in his plea. 

The pilot added: “The passengers being permitted to carry kirpan defies logic and reasoning why the petitioner should be deprived of carrying the kirpan while travelling.” 

The pilot is requesting that the Ministry of Civil Aviation issues corrective guidance to all those concerned.   

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