On Thursday, 15th of September, the Apex Court of India while hearing the petitions challenging the prohibition of wearing hijab inside educational institutions in Karnataka orally stated that a school (educational institutions) has the right to choose its uniform and this cannot be denied. The Supreme Court bench comprised of Justice Hemant Gupta and Justice Sudhanshu Dhulia.
Justice Sudhanshu Dhulia orally stated “The rules say that educational institutions have the power to decide the uniform. Hijab is different. The power of a school to decide a particular uniform cannot be denied.” It needs to be noted that the next hearing in the matter will be held on September 19.
The hijab controversy gained momentum in the first week of January after eight Muslim girls were denied entry to classes in a Udupi college because they were wearing a veil. Muslims girls came up in the streets demanding for hijab to be allowed in school and college campuses. They filed a petition in Karnataka High Court for this.On 15th of March, Karnataka High Court came up with a verdict to uphold ban on hijab in educational institutions.The bench concluded, “We are of the opinion that Government has power to issue GO, we are of the the opinion no case is made out to initiate disciplinary enquiry against college authorities. All writ petitions are dismissed.”
A special bench of Karnataka High Court pronounced it’s judgement and upholded the rights of educational institutions to decide on the school uniform. The special bench had heard the case for a total of 11 days while Justice Krishna S Dixit as a single judge heard it for two days. On 10th February 2022, Justice Krishna Dixit had placed the case before a larger bench for hearing the hijab controversy case.
The special bench while dismissing the petitions of the girls demanding for hijab in educational institutions made an important observation. It said “Hijab is not essential religious practice of Islam. The bench primarily framed four questions, (a) Whether Hijab is an essential religious practice protected under Article 25, (b) Whether school uniform is not legally permissible, (c) Whether the government order of February 5 was issued without application of mind and was arbitrary, and (d) Is any case made out to initiate disciplinary inquiry against college.
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