A Sikh woman candidate was prevented from appearing in a competitive examination till she removed her metallic kara (bangle) despite reaching the examination centre before the closing time in terms of the admit card.
The petitioner, who challenged the denial of permission to her to appear in the PGT-Economics (Female) examination, argued that the authorities’ action cannot be sustained based on their defence that there was already a notification informing the candidate desirous of wearing a kara and/or kirpan, to reach the examination centre at least one hour before the reporting time as such notification was notified only two days after the examination was held.
The Delhi High Court has called this move as unsustainable. Justice Rekha Palli said that it was highly unfortunate that a specialised body like the Delhi Subordinate Services Selection Board (DSSSB), which regularly holds examinations with a large number of Sikh candidates, did not take timely action to inform the candidates that if they were desirous of wearing a kara and/or kirpan, they were required to reach the examination centre at least one hour before the reporting time.
The court thus directed DSSSB to ensure that adequate notice, which is well in advance, is given concerning the additional requirement to reach the examination centre one hour before the reporting time in case a candidate is wearing a kara and/or kirpan so that no undue hardship is caused to them.
“It is highly unfortunate that a specialised body like the DSSSB, which is regularly conducting examinations for selection to various posts in the public sectors in Delhi and in which examinations, a large number of Sikh candidates regularly appear, did not bother to take any timely action to inform the candidates that if they were desirous of wearing a kara and/or kirpan, they were required to reach the examination centre at least one hour before the reporting time," said the court in its order dated July 11.
The respondent nos. 3 & 4 (concerned authorities), having not taken any steps to inform the prospective candidates about this requirement to reach the examination centre at least one hour before the reporting time and have prevented the petitioner from appearing in the examination till she removed her kara and permitted the sleeves of her dress to be cut to half, have wrongly prevented the petitioner from appearing in the examination wherein she had an opportunity of being selected and appointed as PGT-Economics (Female). The action of the respondent nos. 3 & 4 is, therefore, clearly unsustainable and is liable to be quashed, the court said.
The court said that it expected all other recruiting agencies as well to take appropriate steps in this regard well before the conduct of the examinations. The counsel for the authorities said that they have always permitted all Sikh candidates wearing kara and/or kirpan to appear in examinations provided they reach the examination centre one hour before the reporting time and since the petitioner reported barely two minutes before the closing time and that too in a full sleeves dress, she was to be blamed for being not permitted to appear in the examination at that belated stage.
The court however noted that in the present case, it was an admitted position that the notification concerning those wearing kara and/or kirpan was issued only two days after the conduct of the examination. The petitioner said that she has no objection to re-appear in the examination subject to her being granted requisite age relaxation and the examination being conducted in a time-bound manner and the court granted time to the authorities to state their stand on the same.
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