A Muslim girl in Mumbai has moved the High Court after she was denied wearing hijab, Islamic headscarf, by her college. The student, identified as Fakeha Badami from Mumbai’s Bandra area, has approached the court after she accused her college of preventing her from appearing for repeater exams in June because of poor attendance.
The homeopathy student, who got herself enrolled in the bachelor of homeopathy medicine and surgery course in Sai Homeopathic Medical College, Bhiwandi, in 2016, alleged that she was barred from attending classes because she wore hijab, reported Times of India.
The report further added that the ministry of AYUSH (ayurveda, yoga and naturopathy, unani, siddha and homeopathy) had even directed the college to resolve the issue, saying “it cannot compel a student to not wear the hijab since it is disrespect to social justice”. MUHS wrote to the state medical education and drugs department to know if there was any regulation barring Muslim students from wearing the hijab. It said she should be allowed to attend college.However, this had very little effect on the college, whose administration refused to budge.
Fakeha approached the High Court first time in November 2017. But the college exams were over by then. The college told the High Court it would accommodate the student in repeater lectures. The HC directed the college to approach Maharashtra University of Health Sciences (MUHS) and seek its advice on rules and regulations.
Fakeha was allowed to attend lectures on 19 March only upon producing a copy of the HC’s order.
On 28 March, the college wrote to MUHS asking if Fakeha should be allowed to appear for the repeater exams in view of her attendance of “only six days.” On 11 April, the MUHS replied saying that Fakeha did not ‘meet the mandatory attendance criteria.’
The aggrieved student says that it was the college, which first barred her from attending the classes resulting in her poor attendance. Fakeha’s petition, filed before the vacation bench of Justices Shahrukh Kathawalla and Ajay Gadkari, said, “India is a… secular democracy. Denying anyone… the right to wear the hijab is denying her the right to practice a religion of her choice, despite such right being clearly protected by the Constitution of India as a Fundamental Right under Article 25.”
The bench asked Fakeha’s lawyer, Sariputta Sarnath, to serve notices to the college and other respondents while fixing the date for hearing on Friday.