Hijab Ban: The Karnataka High Court ruled that wearing Hijab is not an obligatory religious practice in the Islamic religion and so is not protected under Article 25 of the Constitution.
The Karnataka High Court ruled that wearing Hijab is not an obligatory religious practice in the Islamic religion and so is not protected under Article 25 of the Constitution.
Let us tell you that the court denied the Muslim girls’ petition against the Hijab prohibition in colleges for these three reasons:
- Whether the Hijab is an obligatory religious practice in the Islamic religion protected by Article 25.
- Whether or not requiring students to wear a school uniform is a violation of their rights.
- Does the February 5 order by the Karnataka government in which the students were barred from wearing religious attires, violate Articles 14 and 15 apart from being incompetent and clearly arbitrary?
The question before the court was whether any case is made out for conducting disciplinary inquiry against the college authorities.
Chief Justice Ritu Raj Awasthi, who read out the operative portion of the judgment in open court, observed thus, “The answers to our questions are, the wearing of the Hijab by Muslim women is not a compulsory religious practice in the Islamic faith.”
He further said, “Our second answer is school uniform is not a violation of rights. It is constitutionally acceptable to which students cannot object.”
The court said, “In view of the above, the Government is empowered to issue the order dated 5th February and no case is made out for it to be invalid. No case is made out for issuing disciplinary proceedings against the respondents and viz. Not maintainable. All the writ petitions are dismissed as being devoid of merit.”
The Full Bench of the High Court further observed that the fixation of school dress by the State is a reasonable restriction student rights under Article 25 and thus, the Government Order dated February 5, issued by the Government of Karnataka is not a violation of their rights.
Accordingly, the Court has dismissed the petitions filed by Muslim girl students, challenging the action of denying admission to a government PU college for wearing Hijab (headscarf).
Hijab Ban: What is the whole matter?
The hearing went on for 11 days before a full bench of Chief Justice Ritu Raj Awasthi, Justice Krishna S Dixit and Justice JM Khaji and the verdict was reserved on February 25.
Senior advocates Devdutt Kamat, Sanjay Hegde, Professor Ravivarma Kumar, Yusuf Muchhala and AM Dar argued for the petitioners.
Advocate General Prabhulinga Navadgi appeared on behalf of Karnataka State. Senior advocates SS Naganand and Sajan Poovaiya appeared for the teachers and college development committees in support of the Hijab ban.
An important question before the Court in this case was whether wearing the Hijab was part of the essential religious practice in Islam and whether such matters required state intervention. The court also has to consider whether wearing Hijab is part of the character of the right to expression under Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution and can the ban be imposed only under Article 19(2)?
Meanwhile, the court had passed an interim order barring students from wearing any kind of religious clothing in classes, regardless of their faith.
Controversy erupted after some Muslim girl students of Government PU College were denied admission for wearing headscarf. They argued that wearing the Hijab is part of their religious and cultural practice.
The petitioners also challenged a February 5 government order that held that banning the Hijab would not violate Article 25 and ordered that student should not be allowed to wear the Hijab. The dress code prescribed by the college development committees should be worn.
The matter was earlier referred to Justice Krishna S. Dikshit, which referred the petitions to a larger bench saying it involved “questions of fundamental importance”. The petitioners argued that wearing Hijab is a compulsory religious practice under Islam and its suspension, even for a few hours during school, undermines the faith of the community and violates their fundamental rights under Articles 19 and 25 of the Constitution.
They (petitioners) relied heavily on a decision by the Constitutional Court of South Africa in KwaZulu-Natal & Others v Pillay, in which the court upheld the right of a Hindu girl from South India to wear a nose ring in school.