The Bombay High Court on Friday asked the medical student to appear for second repeat exams in December provided she attends the lectures.
Fakeha Badami, a student of homeopathy, had first moved the Bombay High Court in November 2017 accusing it of not allowing her to wear a hijab (headscarf) and barring her from sitting for examinations on the ground of having low attendance. As per her petition, Badami had in 2016 enrolled in the Bachelor of Homoeopathic Medicine and Surgery course in the college, which was affiliated to the Maharashtra University of Health Services (MUHS).
The college had then told the high court that it would accommodate her in the repeater lectures and examinations to be held in the 2018 summers. Despite this, she was allowed to attend the repeater lectures only from March this year and was again barred from appearing for the repeater exams on the ground of poor attendance, Badami claimed in the petition.
She then approached the HC, which on March 12, this year, recorded the statement of the college and MUHS authorities. They told the court that the petitioner would be allowed to take repeat classes and sit for first-year BHMS examination “as and when eligible for the same”. The petitioner was allowed inside the college only after the authorities received the court order on March 19, the petition stated.
According to the petition, while repeat classes were conducted by the college between March 2 and April 18, the petitioner could only attend classes held between March 19 to April 18. Out of these, she missed three days of classes due to “health reasons”.
The petition claimed that she and several other students who wore hijab were prohibited from entering the college premises. Badami then wrote letters to the MUHS and the Ministry of AYUSH (Ayurveda, Yoga and Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homoeopathy) which asked the college to resolve the issue, saying it cannot compel a student to not wear the hijab. But the college did not intervene.
The petitioner added that “to her utter shock and dismay, the college started coercing all Muslim girls to remove their hijab”, when the college started in December 2016. Alleging that it started “threatening” Muslim girls to either stop wearing hijab or attend classes, the student said several girls either took off their hijab or left the college. But the petitioner refused to do so.
The college’s lawyer, Sahil Salvi, refuted the allegations and said Badami was held ineligible as she had low attendance. “The college is willing to let her appear for the second repeat exams, scheduled to be held in December this year, provided she attends all the repeat lectures that will be conducted till November,” Salvi told a vacation bench of justices S J Kathawalla and A S Gadkari today.
“She (Badami) has attended only 28 classes. How can we allow her to attend exams now? She is doing a medical course. Without attending the requisite number of classes we cannot allow her to appear for the exams,” Justice Kathawalla said.
“We hope after she attends the repeat lectures and appears for the exams the college allows her to attend the regular lectures and not disallow her then saying she is wearing hijab.”, the court added.
(With PTI inputs)