NEW DELHI: Members of minority communities should be allowed to wear dresses and carry articles as per their religious beliefs when appearing in recruitment and academic tests, the Delhi Minorities Commission has told the city government. Acting on the commission’s order, the General Administration Department (GAD) has issued a circular to all principal secretaries and heads of departments, asking for “appropriate action” on the dress code for minority students and candidates appearing in examinations.
Minority commission chairman Zafarul Islam Khan said the order was issued in view of complaints from members of minority communities that they faced difficulties when appearing in such examinations and were forced to take off their articles of faith.
In its order, the Commission said, “Muslim women cannot be denied their religious right to wear the hijab (headscarf). They must also be allowed to wear full-sleeve shirts. The Sikhs are allowed to carry kirpan (dagger) of reasonable length as per Indian Constitution’s Article 25.” The order noted that while security precautions were very much required during examinations, they should not harm the interests of minority students and candidates.
“Where certain security arrangements and frisking are required, candidates must be clearly informed in advance that they have to present themselves at the frisking point, say half an hour earlier. The frisking staff is fully within its rights to check the hijab of Muslim women and allow them in after making sure security requirements have been met,” said the order.
The Commission has directed all the government departments and educational institutions to “meticulously observe” its dress code order, saying failure to do so will invite legal action. Pursuant to the order, the Directorate of Training and Technical Education has, in a letter to principals of institutions under it, asked for necessary action.
Khan said that compliance reports on the order had been received by the Commission from various departments, including the Services under Delhi government. The Commission had last month issued a notice to the University Grants Commission, taking up the issue of a student allegedly not being allowed to appear in a test for wearing a headscarf.
There have been complaints from members of minority communities that they face difficulties when appearing in examinations and are forced to take off their articles of faith. The minorities panel has said security precautions are very much required during examinations, but they should not harm the interests of minority students and candidates.