Kerala HC directs CBSE board to not infringe on Muslim girls’ rights

NEW DELHI: On Tuesday, the Kerala High Court, directed the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) to allow female Muslim candidates who wanted to wear their head-scarf and long-sleeved dress in accordance with their religious practice to sit for the All-India Pre-Medical/Pre-Dental Entrance Test (AIPMT) – 2016. A report in The New Indian Express states that the court asked these students should be at the exam venue 30 minutes prior to the exam so that a woman invigilator if required, could search their body.

Justice A Muhammad Mushtaq issued the order on the petition filed by Amnah Bint Basheer of Pavaratti, Thrissur. Basheer had challenged the dress code which had been prescribed by the CBSE for candidates who wanted to write this exam on May 1.

In the bulletin issued by the CBSE, candidates were asked to ‘wear light clothes with half-sleeve, without large buttons brooch/badge/flower etc., with salwar/trouser’. Basheer in her petition stated that she practised Islam and as per the Quran, women should ‘cover their body, except face, with loose garments, and should not appear in public in the company of non-blood related men’.

In her petition, she reportedly said, “The dress code set by the CBSE has violated the fundamental right of the petitioner to practise religion, including wearing of the dress prescribed by her religion. As per Article 25(1) of the Constitution, every citizen has been guaranteed the fundamental right to profess and practise his/her religion.”

Basheer also added that the CBSE had been implementing their dress code strictly and that candidates were allowed into the exam hall only if their instructions were followed. In her petition, she wrote, “Therefore, unless instruction on the dress code is quashed, there is every possibility of the CBSE prescribing the dress code in future. If the real intent of the CBSE is to ensure a free and fair examination, the same could be achieved by frisking, instead of setting arbitrary and unreasonable conditions.”