A division bench of justices R M Borde and Rajesh Ketkar held that as the tattoo would not interfere with the petitioner's official duties, and as he had met all other eligibility criteria, the CISF authorities must make an exception to their rules for him.
Also, as the tattoo was of a religious symbol, the bench held that petitioner Shridhar Pakhare's religious sentiments must be respected. Pakhare had applied for the post of constable-cum-driver with the CISF.
While he cleared the requisite test and medical examination, he was denied the job on account of a tattoo on his right forearm. As per CISF rules, tatoos are not allowed.
Pakhare said he tried to remove the tattoo surgically, but failed to have it removed completely.
He moved the court for relief, arguing that as the Army makes exception for those who have tattoos depicting religious symbols, the CISF be directed to do the same.
He also pointed out that a recent CISF circular calling for applications for the post of senior inspector which said that tattoos of religious symbols were permissible if they were small in size.
The CISF's decision holding him unfit for employment was "unreasonable and tended to interfere with his religious sentiments", the petition said.
Agreeing with his contention, the bench said, "The religious sentiments of a citizen shall have to be given a due weightage and especially if while making recruitment to a higher post such exceptions are made, there was no reason for the employer to not apply the same parameters for the petitioner.
"Apart from this, there is no dispute that the tattoo in question has been removed to the extent of 90 per cent. It is fairly admitted by the counsel appearing for the respondent (CISF) that petitioner is otherwise eligible to secure employment," the judges said, directing that Pakhare's claim for the job be considered.