Kerala High Court relaxes examination dress code
Kerala: The Kerala High Court on Tuesday allowed two female candidates to write their All India Pre-Medical/Pre-Dental Entrance Test-2015 scheduled on July 25 wearing their religious dress, subject to certain conditions.
Justice K. Vinod Chandran, while disposing of two writ petitions filed by two Muslim candidates challenging the dress code prescribed by the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE), observed that it could not be insisted in a nation like India with diverse religions that a particular dress code mandated by a religion should be avoided while writing examinations.
The dress code was ordered by the CBSE following a Supreme Court order in mid-June that a fresh test be held in view of large-scale irregularities at many test centres across the country on May 3. A probe by the Haryana Police found that many students got answers over phone through carefully concealed listening devices.
The petitions against the dress code were filed by Nidha Raheem of Palakkad and Asiya Abdul Kareem of Malappuram. While Nidha would write the examination at the Wadi Islam High School at Koduvalli in Kozhikode, Asiya would appear at the centre at the Bhavans Vidyashram at Chelembra in Malappuram.
The court ordered that an invigilator, along with a woman invigilator, or another authorised officer should be present at the two centres half-an-hour before the examinations commenced. The court also directed the petitioners who wanted to wear their religious dress to present themselves before the invigilator half-an-hour before the examination.
On any suspicion expressed by the invigilator, they should subject themselves to any mode of personal search as decided by the invigilators. However, the search should be carried out by an authorised person of the same sex. If the invigilator required that the head scarf or the full sleeve garments be removed and examined, the petitioner should subject themselves to such requirement. The CBSE counsel submitted that the dress code did not intend to harass any student. It was only to ensure that the irregularity did not recur.
The court also noted that the dress code as such could not be said to be wrong or improper especially considering the Supreme Court judgment. The petitioners said the CBSE had stipulated a dress code of “half sleeves shirt/T-shirt/kurta with trousers/salwars and open slippers.” The dress code was mentioned in the provisional admit card issued to the petitioners.
The petitioners said they were following the religion of Islam ardently. The insistence on the dress code was directly in conflict with the quranic injunctions. quran enjoined on women a strict code of dress — wearing Khumur (veil covering the head) and Jilbab A (loose outer garment was the dress code prescribed by quran and Sunnah. They feared that they might not be permitted to write the exam if they wore the dress prescribed by the quran.