‘Muslim women can follow Islamic dress code during exams’

The Kerala High Court on Tuesday ordered that Muslim women candidates be allowed to appear for the All India Pre-Medical/Pre-Dental Entrance Test (AIPMT)-2016 scheduled on May 1 with headscarf and a full-sleeve dress — a dress code prescribed by their religion. Justice A. Muhamed Mustaq, however, allowed the frisking of such candidates by women invigilators.

The court, while allowing a writ petition filed by Amnah bint Basheer of Thrissur, against the dress code prescribed by the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE), observed that “the right of women to have the choice of dress based on religious injunctions is a fundamental right protected under Article 25(1), when such prescription of dress is an essential part of the religion”.

The court found that covering the head and wearing a long sleeve dress by Muslim women had been treated as an essential part of Islam. It added that the rationale for the Board’s move of prescribing a dress code was to avoid malpractices in the examination. The interest of the Board could be safeguarded by allowing invigilators to frisk such candidates. Since their religious sentiments needed to be honoured, women invigilators could be deployed.

The judge pointed out that reasonable restrictions under Article 25 could be invoked to protect public order, morality and health. In fact, the prescription of a dress code was not invoked in the interest of public order or morals of society by the Board.

The court also observed that the right to practise the essential part of the religion as guaranteed by Article 25(1) “is insulated from interference by the authority or the state except in situation” referred to in Article 25.

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Printable version | Oct 18, 2021 2:02:46 AM |

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