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Kerala HC Permits Muslim Girls to Wear Hijab for All India Pre-Medical Test

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Thrissur: The Kerala High Court recently ordered that Muslim women candidates be allowed to appear for the All India Pre-Medical/Pre-Dental Entrance Test (AIPMT)-2016 wearing Hijab (headscarf) and full-sleeve dress. Justice A. Muhamed Mustaq, however, allowed 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 long-sleeve dress by Muslim women had been treated as an essential part of the Islamic religion. Article 25(1) protected such prescription of dress code. The court added that the rationale for prescribing a dress code by the Board was to avoid malpractices in the examination. The interest of the Board could be safeguarded by allowing the invigilator to frisk such candidates.