Thiruvananthapuram: A Keralite nun was on Saturday denied permission to appear for the All India Pre Medical Entrance Test (AIPMT) in Thiruvananthapuram after she refused to remove her veil and Holy cross as required under the CBSE’s new dress code.
Sister Saiba, who was to take the test at Jawahar Central School, Thiruvananthapuram, on Saturday morning, said she sought permission to write the examination with her veil and cross. However, the school principal told her about the guidelines issued by the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE). She then requested for a separate room to write the examination without the veil and cross, but it was not accepted by the school authorities, she told mediapersons.
“I requested that I may be given a separate room where I will remove the veil and cross and write the test, but that was not allowed," she said. The principal told her that she was also a Christian and understood her plight, but as per CBSE guidelines, veil and Holy cross cannot be permitted inside the examination hall.
Many students were seen removing head scarfs, earrings and all other articles banned before entering the hall at various examination centres in the state. They were allowed inside only after body frisking.
The Supreme Court of India had on Friday refused to entertain plea of an Islamic organisation that Muslim girl applicants be allowed to wear “hijab" (scarf), a customary religious dress, while appearing for the AIPMT.
“Faith is something different from wearing some kind of cloth," a three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice H.L. Dattu stated, adding the AIPMT was being held again at its direction and some “reasonable restrictions" were needed.
The Kerala high court had earlier granted conditional permission to two Muslim girls to appear for the test wearing hijab.
In the backdrop of large scale irregularities in the AIPMT held in May this year, the apex court had directed the CBSE to conduct a second test following which the board imposed a strict dress code, banning jewellery, hair pins, head scarf or veils, shoes, watches and all electronic devices.
Reacting to the incident, Syro Malabar Church spokesperson Father Paul Thelekkat, said it was “unfortunate" that the nun was not permitted to write the test. “The Catholic church does not consider veil as the most important religious symbol of the Catholic faith. At the same time, we do not subscribe to the view of the Supreme court chief justice that 3-4 hours without veil does not make any difference. It does make and it is up to the citizen to take the decision", he said.