Karnataka hijab row: Split verdict by SC; Justice Gupta upholds ban, Justice Dhulia says ‘matter of choice’ | India News

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Tuesday passed a split judgment on a bunch of appeals challenging restriction on Muslim girl students wearing hijab in educational institutes in Karnataka.
Justice Hemant Gupta upheld the Karnataka government circular enforcing uniform and banning all religious dresses, including hijab. He dismissed the 26 appeals filed against the judgment of the Karnataka high court which held that hijab was not an essential practice in Islam.
In a diverging opinion, Justice Sudhanshu Dhulia allowed the appeals and said that it was a matter of choice of Muslim women, “nothing less than nothing more”.
The bench ordered that the matter be placed before the CJI for assigning the controversy, arising from the Karnataka government’s February 5 circular, to a three-judge bench.
Meanwhile, the Karnataka high court’s order upholding ban on hijab in educational institutions is to continue pending a final decision in the apex court.
Karnataka hijab row live updates
Here’s how the hijab row, starting from a college in a Karnataka town, snowballed into a major issue attracting focus from across the country.
In December 2021, some students in hijab were denied entry to classroom in a college in Udupi on grounds of violating prescribed uniform code. In the following days, a group approached college authorities for a settlement, but talks failed. The matter soon attained a political colour. In January 2022, some Hindu students in Chikmagalur demanded that they be allowed to attend classes in saffron shawls. Several institutions across the state witnessed protests by students over dress code. Some Muslim students moved Karnataka High court, contending that wearing of hijab is a necessary religious practice and barring it amounted to hostile discrimination based on religion. They also argued that no law barred attending classes in hijab, and doing so amounted to infringement of fundamental rights. The state government on February 5 issued an order banning clothes that disturb equality, integrity and public order in schools and colleges. All educational institutions in the state were closed for three days on February 8, 2022 as a precautionary measure before a ruling by the HC. The Karnataka government maintained that wearing of a hijab was not an essential religious practice. It said that the practice must pass the test of constitutional morality and individual dignity as expounded by the Supreme court in the Sabarimala case. In an interim order on February 10, the HC restrained all students regardless of their religion or faith are restrained from wearing saffron shawls, scarf, hijab, religious flags or the likes within the classroom, until further orders. The petitioners alleged discrimination, citing cross worn by Christians and bangles by Hindus in classes; they also sought being allowed hijabs on Fridays and during Ramzan. On March 15, the high court dismissed the petitions and ruled that hijab it is not a part of the essential religious practice in Islamic faith. The matter landed in the Supreme Court, with 26 different pro-hijab petitions being filed. The Muslim side told the Supreme Court that choice of appearance and apparel is part of a female student’s inviolable right to privacy. The SC bench of Justices Hemant Gupta and Sudhanshu Dhulia concluded hearing and reserved the verdict on September 22, 2022.

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