Whether Muslims in IAF can grow beard after joining the service put the Centre in an awkward position in the Supreme Court. Additional solicitor general Mohan Jain informed a Bench comprising Justices D K Jain and H L Dattu that the issue was still under consideration of the Centre and sought adjournment of the hearing of the case for four weeks. What irked the Bench was the waiving of a letter dated September 1, 2009 written by an under secretary in the ministry of defence, which read, “Air Headquarters are aware that the issue is under active consideration of the government and the finalisation of stand thereon will take some more time. In view of this it is advised that the SC may be intimated accordingly as and when the case comes up again for hearing and further extension of time sought as applicable.” The routine tenor of the letter irked the Bench no end. It said: “They don’t mention the time by when they will decide the case as if the decision will be taken when it is convenient to them. How can such a letter be thrown to the court without being read even once? This is the Supreme Court.” However, on Jain’s request, the Bench granted two weeks time to the Centre to report back to the court on the issue. The observations came during the hearing of a petition filed by Corporal Mohammad Zubair, who challenged an October 21, 2005 order issued by the Indian Air Force asking him to shave off his beard. Zubair argued that beard was an essential part of his religion and not allowing him to do so would violate his fundamental right to practise and profess his religion, protected under Article 25 of the Constitution.