Against the backdrop of a woman alleging that she was not allowed to appear for the National Eligibility Test (NET) in Goa after she refused to take off her 'hijab', a state government official has clarified that there are no rules specifying dress code for the exam.
Last month, Safina Khan Soudagar, 24, had said she was asked by the supervisor at the examination centre in Panaji to remove her hijab (head scarf) and when she refused to do so, she was not allowed to take the exam.
"The woman should have been allowed to appear in the examination," Goa's higher education director Prasad Lolienkar said in a letter to the National Testing Agency of the Union Human Resource Development Ministry.
Prime facie, it appears there are no rules specified on the website (concerned) or elsewhere pertaining to exams, specially about restrictions on hijab or a particular dress code, Lolienkar said in the letter written on January 1.
"If, for any reason, hijab is not allowed, then it should be clearly mentioned in the instructions," he said, adding that examiners and supervisors should be sensitive towards personal liberties and religious sentiments of the candidates.
He said clear instructions needed to be specified on the website concerned or admit card of an exam so that candidates are well aware of the terms and conditions about the dress code, "specially keeping in mind all faiths".
Soudagar had earlier moved the Goa State Human Rights Commission after not being allowed to appear for the NET, conducted by the University Grants Commission (UGC) to determine eligibility for college and university level lecturership and for the award of junior research fellowship.
She had also sent an e-mail to Lolienkar, giving details about the incident which had happened on December 18, 2018 in Panaji.