‘Not allowed to wear hijab’, Mumbai student takes college to court

A student of homeopathy has moved the Bombay High Court against her college, accusing it of not allowing her to wear a hijab (headscarf) and barring her from sitting for examinations on the ground of having low attendance.

The petitioner, a resident of Bandra in Mumbai, moved court on Monday seeking permission to appear for the first-year examinations of Bachelor of Homeopathic Medicine and Surgery (BHMS) course at Sai Homeopathic Medical College (SHMC) in Bhiwandi beginning June 1.

The petition stated that the woman had cleared her Common Entrance Test and secured admission in SHMC on December 14, 2016. While the session started on December 27, 2016, she started attending college from the next day.

The petitioner added that “to her utter shock and dismay, the college started coercing all Muslim girls to remove their hijab”. Alleging that it started “threatening” Muslim girls to either stop wearing hijab or attend classes, the student said several girls either took off their hijab or left the college. But the petitioner refused to do so.

The petitioner said that she and her parents told the college authorities that it was not possible for her to stop wearing hijab since it is a religious practice. She added that they approached several college authorities to resolve the issue. On January 11, 2017, they wrote to the Union Ministry of Ayurveda, Yoga and Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homoeopathy (AYUSH).

On January 20, 2017, the ministry allegedly wrote to the college stating that it “cannot compel a student to not wear hijab, since it is disrespect to social justice,” while directing it to immediately resolve the issue. However, she was asked to leave college, the petitioner said. On March 2, 2017, the student’s father wrote to state Medical Education and Drugs Department (MEDD). While the department directed the college authorities to meet the petitioner, no initiative was taken by the institute, the student alleged. The father again informed the department, following which, the college authorities were asked to appear before Maharashtra University of Health Sciences (MUHS) officials for a hearing on May 15, 2017.

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