A day after The Indian Express reported about 1,159 candidates in Bihar being made to take the Army exam in only their underwear, the Patna High Court on Tuesday served a notice to the Union defence secretary and the director of the Army Regional Office (ARO), Muzaffarpur, seeking an explanation. Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar also stepped in, seeking a report on the incident from Army chief Gen Dalbir Singh.
Sources at the ARO had said that the candidates, appearing for the recruitment exam for soldiers on general duty and in the clerical and technical categories, were asked to remove their clothes to “save time on frisking so many people”.
The Express story that triggered the action: Bihar: For this Army exam, honesty is stripping down to underwear
The Patna High Court was responding to a PIL filed by lawyer Dinu Kumar, who presented news clippings to a division bench of Acting Chief Justice I A Ansari and Justice Anjana Mishra. Senior lawyer
S D Sanjay represented the Centre.
“I asked the court if conducting the examination is such an undignified manner does not amount to violation of human rights and right to live with dignity under IPC provisions. I pleaded that our Army is known for its discipline but asked if the act of conducting examination in underwear was not an example of gross indiscipline and insensitivity,” Kumar said.
Kumar said that when the court was told that the exam happened barely 100 km from Patna, the court observed that it would have taken note even if it had taken place “500 km away”. “We have never seen such an example of stopping unfair means,” Kumar said.
Sources said ARO director Colonel V S Godhara has been asked to submit a report to Danapur Regional Office.
On Parrikar seeking a report from the Army chief, Army sources said, “A report has been sought on the incident as the matter has come to light through media reports.” However, they sought to defend the incident saying it was only done to prevent cheating, and that the suggestion was made by candidates who have cleared the examination in the past.