The Supreme Court on Friday refused to allow aspirants appearing for the All India Pre-Medical Test (AIPMT) to wear a hijab, saying that “your faith won’t disappear” if it is not worn on a particular day.
The directive comes three days after the Kerala High Court allowed two Muslim girls to wear a headscarf and a full-sleeve dress for the July 25 test, on the condition that an invigilator can frisk them if required.
Watch Video: (App users click here)
On Friday, a bench led by Chief Justice H L Dattu told the counsel for the petitioner, the Students Islamic Organisation (SIO) of India: “On a day when you have to sit for an exam, you are being asked not to wear it. Your faith won’t disappear if you appear for the exam without a scarf.” The bench added that it was a “small issue” and the top court does not need to interfere in such matters.
“This court asked CBSE to re-conduct the exam. One petition is filed saying I should be allowed to wear a cap. Another petition is filed that I should be allowed to wear a kurta since it is my religious practice. Merely because you are wearing something different, should we be allowing such a prayer?” it added.
The Supreme Court had scrapped the May 3 AIPMT and re-scheduled the test amid reports that the question paper was leaked and electronic equipment was used to cheat.
The CBSE then issued a notification, which stated that “the candidates will not bring… items like belts, cap, scarf, etc” to the exam hall. It also asked the candidates to wear light clothes with half sleeves as well as open footwear.
It was this notification that the SIO, along with some candidates, challenged in the top court.
Appearing for the SIO, senior advocate Sanjay Hegde said that the dress code sought to meddle with the religious practices of a particular community. “If I have to adhere to my religious practices, I will have to give up on my exam,” he said.
But the bench retorted, saying “it was nothing but ego”. It told Hegde that the court sat in the summer vacation to hear the AIPMT case, and had ordered a re-test in light of the alleged irregularities.
“There were serious problems and we ordered for re-conducting the exam. Now the exam has to be held properly. What if everyone wears a scarf or something else and claims it to be a religious practice? Can an examiner start inquiring into everybody’s faith?” it said.
Suggesting that it was a reasonable restriction, the court said, “You may wear it after the exam. What is the problem? We don’t interfere with these kinds of small issues.”