Hijab Ban in Karnataka

The Karnataka government on 5th Feb 2022 ordered to ban Hijab worn by Muslim women, stating that it should not be worn in educational institutions as it interrupts equality, sincerity, and public law in schools and colleges. The state government invoked  Article 133(2) of the Karnataka Education Act, which states that a uniform style of clothes has to be worn mandatorily. The Karnataka Government contended that the ban on wearing Hijabs to schools and colleges is not a violation of the fundamental right to religion, guaranteed by the Indian Constitution.

The controversy began in January when Muslim girls of Udupi started wearing Hijabs in the classroom and in protest, the Hindu students started wearing saffron scarves.  Gradually the controversy grabbed political attention, where the Congress leaders supported the Muslim girls on wearing Hijabs while the ruling party  BJP said it will not allow the Talibanistan of Educational institutions.

The controversy reached the High Court, and three petitions were filed before the Karnataka High Court, by the Muslim students claiming the fundamental right to religion under Article 25 and arguing upon the grounds of discrimination against them, by denying them entry in college with Hijab.

One of the petitions mentions that the petitioners, like Muslim students, have been wearing their scarf from the time they started studying in the college and there is a specific provision in the college rulebook that permits the Muslim students to wear Hijab.

On Wednesday, the single judge of the high court referred these petitions, challenging the ban, to a larger bench.

No Religious Dress in Colleges During Pendency of Case:

The larger bench presided over by Chief Justice Ritu Raj Awasthi, directed that  till the matter is pending consideration before the Court, the students and all stakeholders, shall not insist on wearing religious garments, may be headdress or saffron shawl.  The court  restrained everyone, in order to maintain peace and tranquility in State.

Student Moves Supreme Court Challenging Karnataka HC’s Interim Order:

A special leave petition has been filed before the Supreme Court challenging the interim observations made by the Karnataka High Court yesterday directing no religious dress in colleges during pendency of the case challenging the Hijab ban.
The petitioners contend that the choice of conscience of individuals, more particularly, that of Muslim women studentsis being questioned and the very essence of belief and practice guaranteed and protected by the chapter of Fundamental Rights in the Constitution of India has been violated, and as a result the careers and future of Muslim women-students are in limbo.

Now the matter is listed before the Hon’ble Supreme Court on 14th Feb,2022.


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