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Wednesday, July 28, 2021

Sikh woman prevented from entering exam hall with kirpan and kara, approaches Delhi HC

HC issues notice to Centre, Delhi govt and Delhi Subordinate Services Selection Board. Manharleen Kaur was scheduled to take the examination for the post of PGT Economics, advertised by the DSSSB, at Arwachin Bharti Bhawan Senior Secondary School, Vivek Vihar on July 17 but was not allowed to enter the examination centre after she refused to remove her kirpan and kara.

By: Express News Service | New Delhi |
Updated: July 23, 2021 8:29:00 am
The court will hear the case on August 11. (File photo)

THE DELHI High Court on Thursday issued notice to the Centre, Delhi government, and Delhi Subordinate Services Selection Board (DSSSB) in a petition filed by an Amridhari Sikh woman, who was restrained from entering an examination centre on the ground that she was wearing a kirpan and a kara.

The petition filed by Manharleen Kaur, through advocates Kapil Madan and Gurmukh Singh Arora, seeks framing of uniform guidelines by the Centre to ensure the fundamental rights guaranteed under Article 14, 19, and 25 are secured and protected. The court will hear the case on August 11.

Kaur was scheduled to take the examination for the post of PGT Economics, advertised by the DSSSB, at Arwachin Bharti Bhawan Senior Secondary School, Vivek Vihar on July 17 but was not allowed to enter the examination centre after she refused to remove her kirpan and kara.

She said in the petition that the vacancy was notified by the government after a span of three years, and she has been preparing for it for the past one-and-a-half years. “Petitioner time and again requested and tried to reason out with such officials and pleaded that she should be allowed to give the exam,” reads the plea, adding that the requests went in vain and she was deprived of her right to appear in the examination.

“For a Sikh to wear and carry ‘kirpan’ and ‘kara’ is very pious and is an essential element of their practice of Sikh religion. The law recognises that religious freedom is primarily a matter of conscience,” argues the petition, adding that the Constitution of India allows the freedom to manifest one’s religion, alone and in private or in community with others, in public, and within the circle of those whose faith one shares.

The plea seeks an enquiry into the “illegal refusal” by the authorities at the examination centre, and also prays for appropriate arrangements to allow her to appear in the examination at the earliest without any delay.

It also states that Deputy CM Manish Sisodia in December 2017 had directed the DSSSB chairman to issue necessary instructions to ensure that Sikh students are allowed to carry their religious symbols when they come for any examination.

“It is pertinent to mention here that the same issue also came for adjudication before this Hon’ble Court in a writ petition… whereby this Hon’ble High Court vide an order dated 03.05.2018 observed that CBSE’s lack of accommodation for Sikh candidates is unjustified,” adds the petition.

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