"Faith is not connected to the clothes you wear,” the Supreme Court on Friday told students of a minority community challenging the CBSE's ban on candidates wearing scarves, full-sleeve clothes into All India Pre-Medical Test (AIPMT) exam halls on July 25.
Students Islamic Organisation of India and a group of students led by Mariam Naseem requested a Bench led by Chief Justice of India to intervene on their behalf, saying some of the articles of cloth, like a head-scarf, were part of their “essential religious practice”.
The students even agreed to come two hours before the exams began in order to facilitate security checks against cheating in exams.
The AIPMT 2015, which was originally held on May 3, was cancelled by the Supreme Court after police investigations revealed sophisticated mode of exam fraud and mass cheating involving MBBS students, doctors and middle-men across the country.
Probe reports filed in the Supreme Court said students wore special vests fitted with SIM cards and Bluetooth into exam halls. With no option left and impacting over six lakh students, the apex court had ordered the CBSE to hold fresh exams and declare results by mid-August.
This time the CBSE has gone an extra mile to ensure there are no hiccups by issuing a notification on July 9 prohibiting AIPMT candidates from wearing hair pins, head bands, scarves and full-sleeve clothes.
The plea by the minority students in the apex court comes shortly after the Kerala High Court allowed two students to wear head scarf into the AIPMT exam halls in the State.
Appearing for the organisation, senior advocate Sanjay Hegde submitted that the CBSE notification was discriminatory as it prevented those who are religiously inclined and follow the mandate of their religion to be attired in a certain manner from writing the entrance exam.
It is my (student's) essential religious practice... I have to adhere to it,” Mr. Hegde argued.
To this, Chief Justice Dattu responded that it is “nothing but an ego.”
“In my faith, I am supposed to wear a head scarf...” Mr. Hegde submitted.
“Faith is not connected to the clothes you wear. For three hours, you adhere to the rules (of CBSE) when you write the exams. Do this for the sake of the exams, which has been already re-scheduled. The court cannot be moved for such small issues,” Chief Justice said.
The Bench permitted Mr. Hegde to withdraw the petitions.