A student from Bhiwandi’s Sai Homeopathic Medical College (SHMC) has moved the Bombay High Court accusing the institute of not allowing her to wear hijab (headscarf) during the examinations. The student also alleged that the college authorities were barring her from sitting in examinations on the ground of low attendance.
The petitioner, a resident of Mumbai’s Bandra, has sought permission to appear for the first-year examinations of Bachelor of Homeopathic Medicine and Surgery (BHMS) starting June 1. In her petition, the student alleged that she had cleared the Common Entrance Test and secured admission in SHMC on December 14, 2016. She also stated that the session was started on December 27, 2016, and she started attending college from December 28, 2016.
In the petition, the student added that she and her parents had repeatedly told the college authorities that it was not possible to remove the hijab as it is a religious practice. She even appealed to Union Ministry of AYUSH (Ayurveda, Yoga and Naturopathy, Unani, Sidda and Homeopathy) on January 11, 2017, to resolve the issue.
On January 20, 2017, the AYUSH ministry had directed the college to immediately resolve the issue. “Cannot compel a student to not wear hijab, since it is disrespect to social justice,” the ministry said, reports Indian Express.
The petitioner further added that her families have even appealed to Medical Education and Drugs Department (MEDD) on March 2, 2017, and Maharashtra University of Health Sciences (MUHS), following which MUHS had asked college authorities for a hearing on May 15, 2017. But the college authorities didn’t appear before the hearing after which MUHS asked it to appear on June 2, 2017. The SHMC informed the MUHS that “the management has stipulated a uniform dress code for boys and girls, hence the request of the student cannot be accepted,” reported IE.
The petitioner had also sent a legal notice to college authorities on October 13, 2017, and even appealed to the Maharashtra Human Rights Commission on October 30, 2017, but the issue remains unsolved. She finally approached the High Court on March 12, 2018. As per Indian Express, repeat classes were conducted by SHMC between March 2 and April 18 out of which the petitioner attended the classes from March 19 to April 18. In this period, she missed three classes due to health reasons.
However, the college’s counsel, Deepak Salvi claimed that SHMC is not against wearing a hijab. “The college had allowed her to wear hijab, but she was insisting on wearing a full burqa,” Salvi said. “If she wore a burqa, it would have been difficult for her to wear an apron, which is required in some of the classes,” Salvi told Indian Express.