K’taka HC Confirms Ban; Advocacy moved to SC

The Karnataka High Court on Tuesday rejected petitions filed by a section of Muslim female students at the Government Pre-University Girls College, Udupi, seeking permission to wear the hijab inside the classroom, saying the headscarf is not part of the essential religious practice in the Islamic faith. .

The school uniform prescription is only a reasonable restriction, authorized by the Constitution, which students cannot object to, further noted a bench of three judges headed by Chief Justice Ritu Raj Awasthi .

In the meantime, a special leave application has been made to the Supreme Court, challenging the High Court judgment. The petition was filed by a Muslim student, Niba Naaz, through lawyer Anas Tanwir.

Karnataka’s Minister of Primary and Secondary Education, BC Nagesh, hailed the ordinance and called it a “landmark”. , who led the entire High Court bench, said he read part of the order. The other two judges on the panel were Justice Krishna S Dixit and Justice JM Khazi.

The bench also argued that the government has the power to issue a contested order dated February 5, 2022 and that no case is established for its invalidation. The Karnataka government had banned the wearing of clothes that disturb equality, integrity and public order in schools and colleges, which the Muslim girls had challenged in the High Court. The bench also rejected the request for a disciplinary investigation against the college, its principal and a teacher.

“In the above circumstances, all such written motions being without merit are likely to be and accordingly are dismissed. Given the dismissal of the motion for an order, all pending motions have become moot and are accordingly disposed of,” the bench said in its order. Minister Nagesh welcomed the order.

He tweeted: “I welcome (the) historic judgment of the High Court of Honorable Karnataka on Uniform Rules of Schools/Colleges. He reiterated that the law of the land is above all.” On January 1, six female college students from Udupi attended a press conference organized by the Campus Front of India (CFI) in the coastal town to protest against the college authorities refusing them entry into the classroom wearing the hijab. This was four days after asking the principal for permission to wear the hijab in the classrooms, which was not allowed Until then, students wore hijabs on campus and entered the classroom after removing headscarves, college principal Rudre Gowda had said.

“The institution had no rules on wearing the hijab as such and no one had used to wear it in class for the past 35 years. The students who came with the request had the support of outside forces,” Gowda said.

The demand by a section of girls from Udupi Junior College to wear the hijab in their classrooms erupted into a major row after some Hindu students showed up in saffron shawls, with the issue spreading to d ‘other parts of the state, even as the government insisted on a uniform standard.

Subsequently, the institutions were closed for a few days before the court ordered them to reopen, while ordering students not to insist on wearing clothes on the campuses of educational institutions that could incite people, until the matter is resolved.

Challenging the government’s Feb. 5 order, the girls had argued to the bench that wearing the Islamic headscarf was an innocent practice of faith and an essential religious practice (ERP), not a mere display of religious chauvinism. Invoking Article 25 of India’s constitution before the bench, senior barrister Devadatt Kamat, who appeared on behalf of Muslim girls at Udupi junior college, said the article talks about “freedom of conscience”.

Kamat had also argued that wearing Rudraksha or putting a Nama (Tilak or vermilion on the forehead) was a similar innocent faith, as people who put it on feel protected by the divine and a connection to the creator. The petitioners also argued that the restriction violated freedom of expression under Article 19(1)(A) and Article 21 dealing with personal liberty.

However, State Attorney General Prabhuling Navadgi dismissed the argument and said the right to wear hijab did not fall under Article 25 of the Constitution as the girls argued. He also said that there are no restrictions on wearing hijab in India with reasonable restrictions subject to institutional discipline. He even argued that the girls were looking for a statement to make hijab mandatory. Once the statement is confirmed by the court, it will become mandatory for all Muslim women to wear it, otherwise they will be branded as anti-religious.

“The consequence of the request to declare Hijab as an essential religious practice is enormous because there is an element of compulsion, otherwise you will be expelled from the community,” Navadgi had told the court during the hearing. Udupi Government Pre-University Girls’ College, its principal and a teacher, SS Naganand, argued that the Muslim girls’ prayer regarding the institution’s authorities was unusual and said there is a fine line of distinction between religion and culture.

Naganand also told the court that the parents of the Muslim girls, who want the Hijab to be allowed on the university campus, have asked teachers to ensure that their daughters do not participate in singing, dancing, music and to extracurricular activities. “Now a different context is given to all of this. I don’t know if they mean Muslim girls shouldn’t sing with their classmates. If the national anthem is sung, shouldn’t they sing? Is it against Islam?” Naganand argued.

During the hearing, the Karnataka High Court also took note of the role of the Campus Front of India (CFI) after Naganand argued that the hijab row was thrown by some students owing allegiance to the student body. The lead attorney said the organization was spearheading and beating the drums for students demanding the wearing of hijab in classrooms. Accordingly, Advocate General Navadgi filed the government’s submissions regarding the CFI in a sealed envelope.

The court was also told that some teachers were threatened by the CFI militants in Udupi and an FIR was also registered against them.

(With PTI entries)

Read all the latest Ukraine-Russia war news, breaking news and live updates here.

Comments are closed.