Why Is Body Tattoo Taken Seriously During The Defense Selection?

Tattoos became more acceptable in today’s society. People all across accept the change but however, within the Indian Defence Forces, there is a strict tattoo policy. Personnel with tattoos anywhere on the body except for the specified portion of arms can’t be recruited within the Indian defence forces. Only certain kind of tattoos, including just in case of tribals, which are as per customs and traditions are permitted.

There is no evidence whatsoever that commanders have found these to own an adverse impact on operational effectiveness and as a result, there has been a reluctance to discharge those that breached the policy.

Judicial Backing:

Recently, the judiciary also ruled within the policy’s favour when the Delhi high court upheld the decision of the Indian Air Force cancelled a man’s appointment for the post of airman as he had carved a permanent tattoo on the external side of his forearm.

However, the right to make a decision on the acceptability or unacceptability of the individual lies with the selection committee, the court ruled.

The Reason Behind Why Is Body Tattoo Taken Seriously:

It is strongly believed within the armed forces that a candidate with tattoos has chances to possess skin disease like skin cancerthey have termed permanent tattoos as “health hazard” as they will act as carriers for certain diseases.

As per the official instructions, these skin hazards cause infections, HIV risks, blood-borne diseases (Hepatitis A and B, Tetanus, etc.), allergy and other related issues at a later stage.

An officer explained that deadly virus are often spread with the use of unhygienic needles used by untrained tattoo artists. HIV tests are too expensive which the defence couldn’t afford to splurge there.

Relaxation of Tattoo Policy:

The Indian defence forces don’t accept any risks whatsoever to its equipment and personnel. The tattoo on the backside of palm and inner a part of the arm from elbow to the wrist are often allowed subject to doctor certification. The tattoo are often a religious symbol or a name and nothing else is hardly tolerated.

Tattoos on the other parts like legs or neck aren’t permitted and candidates with such tattoos aren’t eligible for the defence forces.

Candidates belonging to tribal communities/from tribal areas, as declared by the govt of India Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes Orders Act/Lists (amended and modified from time to time), are permitted to possess permanent body tattoos on any a part of the body, as per existing customs and traditions of the said tribe to which a candidate belongs. Such candidates will only be permitted to continue with the choice process in an SSB on the condition that the said certificates are submitted by the candidate from a tribal area as mention within the call letter.


Permanent body tattoos on inner face of the fore arms (inside of elbow to the wrist), Back (dorsal) a part of the hand/reverse side of palm and tribals with tattoos which are as per custom and traditions of their tribes only are permitted. However, right to make a decision on acceptability/unacceptability of the individual rests with the choice Centre. Candidates with permanent body tattoos are to submit a photograph of the tattoo with details of size and type of the Tattoo.

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