Sikh MBBS aspirants who carry a ‘kirpan’ or wear a ‘kara’, will have to report an hour earlier for the entrance test for screening after the Delhi High Court today said that the CBSE cannot prohibit entry of these “articles of faith” in an exam centre when these objects are allowed even on-board an aircraft. A bench of justices S Ravindra Bhat and A K Chawla rejected the Central Board of Secondary Education’s claim that these items, along with all other metallic objects, were barred from entry on account of use of unfair means in the exam in the past, saying such a prohibition cannot be put in place on the basis of a “vague apprehension”.
“There cannot be a vague apprehension that people who come for the test will do it (cheat). Is there even one instance of misuse of these objects? If you go by your rule, there are lot of implants..,” the court said and added “uniformity of the policy should not lead to absurdity”. It asked the CBSE whether it applied its mind to the specific issue of allowing entry of ‘kirpan’ and ‘kara’ into exam halls for the National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test (NEET)-UG as the plea challenging the prohibition has been pending for nearly a year.
“Was there any thinking from you while the petition was pending here? Did you apply your mind to the issue of ‘kara’ and ‘kirpan’? This is serious as you have any number of Sikh students. How can you ignore your responsibility? You cannot apply a rule in an asymmetrical manner,” the bench said to the Board. It also observed that there was no law in India which prohibits the two objects of faith.
Such policies would lead to a situation where a person would not be able to enter a mall or an aircraft, it said. “Slowly the rights of a person goes and we will become a European country,” the bench said, referring to the United Kingdom where some schools have prohibited students from wearing ‘kara’ or carrying ‘kirpan’.
The court directed the CBSE to ask such aspirants carrying objects of faith to report one hour before the reporting time of 9.30 am at the exam centres. With the direction, the bench disposed of the application moved by the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee (DSGMC) challenging the CBSE’s rules for the NEET under which all metallic objects were barred from entry into the exam hall.
The application was filed by the DSGMC, through advocate S S Ahluwalia, in view of the NEET exam scheduled to be held on May 6. The plea was moved in the DSGMC’s main petition filed last year challenging the CBSE’s rule banning entry of metallic objects, including ‘kara’ and ‘kirpan’, into the exam halls.