THE BOMBAY High court on Friday said it cannot allow a 19-year-old homeopathy student to sit for her first-year examinations in June, as her college has barred her from doing so owing to low attendance. It told the student to attend classes regularly till November so that she could be allowed to sit for repeat exams in December.
Fakeha Badami, a student of homeopathy at Sai Homeopathic Medical College (SHMC) in Bhiwandi, had moved court accusing her college of not allowing her to attend classes for wearing a hijab (head scarf). The petitioner, a resident of Bandra in Mumbai, was seeking permission to appear for the first-year examinations of Bachelor of Homeopathic Medicine and Surgery (BHMS) course beginning June 6.
A vacation bench of Justice S J Kathawalla and Justice A S Gadkari, in its order, noted that the chairman and the principal of SHMC, in an undertaking, has stated that the petitioner will be allowed to appear for the exams during the winter semester, if she attends lectures as required under the Maharashtra University of Health Sciences (MUHS) rules.
Lawyer Sahil Salvi, representing SHMC, told the court that the petitioner will be allowed to appear for the exams if she attends all the repeat lectures, which will be conducted till November. The court noted that the petitioner has accepted the undertaking.
“You will attend classes and then be allowed to appear (for exams) in December,” the bench said. It also asked the college that once she is in regular class, it should not object to her wearing a hijab.
To this, Salvi said the college had never stopped anyone from wearing a hijab.
In her petition, Badami had alleged that the college had started coercing all Muslim girls to remove their hijab since the start of the session in December 2016. Alleging that the college also “threatened” Muslim girls, she had claimed that several students had either stopped wearing hijab or left college. But the petitioner had refused to do so.
Badami’s lawyer Sariputta Sarnath told the court that she was not allowed to attend seven lectures by the college despite the court’s order. He added that the petitioner has already lost one year.
To this, Justice Kathawalla said, “How do we allow you… you’re doing medicine… Without (attending) lectures how do we allow…”
Disappointed that she will not be able to take the examinations in June, Fakeha told The Indian Express: “I have lost a year because of the college. I had sought transfer in other college as well if they had a problem… I am not even getting compensation for the loss of my year.”
Her father Dr Amir Badami said they will not challenge the order before the Supreme Court.
Later in the evening, the SHMC in a statement said that during the first day of the college, Badami was found wearing a burqa and not hijab in the classroom. The principal informed her that burqa was not allowed in the college premises, following which she stopped attending college, it added.
Earlier, the student had approached several college authorities, Union Ministry of AYUSH, state Medical Education and Drugs Department and State Human Rights Commission to resolve the issue.