A day after The Indian Express reported about 1,159 candidates in Bihar being made to take the Army exam in their underwear, the Patna High Court on Tuesday served a notice to the Union defence secretary and the director of the Army Regional Office (ARO), Muzaffarpur, seeking an explanation.
Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar also stepped in, seeking a report on the incident from Army Chief General Dalbir Singh.
Sources at the ARO had said that the candidates, appearing for the recruitment exam for soldiers on general duty and in the clerical and technical categories, were asked to remove their clothes to “save time on frisking so many people”.
The Express story that triggered the action: In Bihar, candidates asked to strip down to their underwear for Army exam
The Patna High Court was responding to a PIL filed by lawyer Dinu Kumar, who presented news clippings to a division bench of Acting Chief Justice I A Ansari and Justice Anjana Mishra. Senior lawyer S D Sanjay represented the Centre.
“I asked the court if conducting the examination in such an undignified manner does not amount to violation of human rights and right to live with dignity under IPC provisions. I pleaded that our Army is known for its discipline but asked if the act of conducting examination in underwear was not an example of gross indiscipline and insensitivity,” Kumar said.
Kumar said that when the court was told that the exam happened barely 100 km from Patna, it observed that it would have taken note even if it had taken place “500 km away”. “We have never seen such an example of stopping unfair means,” he said.
Sources said ARO director Colonel V S Godhara has been asked to submit a report to Danapur Regional Office.
On Parrikar seeking a report from the Army chief, Army sources said, “A report has been sought on the incident as the matter has come to light through media reports.”
However, Army officials sought to defend the incident saying it was only done to prevent cheating. They said that the decision was taken by the local staff after a large number of candidates complained that many of those taking the exams were resorting to unfair means through notes, cellphones & even bluetooth devices hidden in clothes. The Army HQ has directed corrective measures for ensuring fairness without causing embarrassment to candidates.
Source: Indian Express