Supreme Court to consider setting up three-judge bench to hear Karnataka Hijab ban row

A bench comprising Chief Justice DY Chandarchud, and Justices V Ramasubramanian and JB Pardiwala, took note of the submissions of senior advocate Meenakshi Arora that an interim order was needed.
Image used for representational purpose only.   (Photo | EPS)
Image used for representational purpose only. (Photo | EPS)

NEW DELHI:  The Supreme Court on Monday agreed to consider setting up a three-judge bench for hearing pleas challenging the Karnataka High Court’s ruling of upholding the prohibition on wearing hijab in educational institutions of the state following a split verdict. 

Urging the bench, comprising the Chief Justice of India, DY Chandrachud, and Justices V Ramasubramanian and JB Pardiwala to list the pleas, senior advocate Meenakshi Arora submitted that although the girl students pursuant to the ban had started going to private institutions, the interim directions were required to permit them to appear for exams to held in government colleges from Febrary 6.  Considering Arora’s submission, CJI Chandrachud said, “I will examine it. It’s a three-judge bench matter.” 

A bench of Justices Hemant Gupta (now retired) and Sudhanshu Dhulia on October 13 delivered a split verdict. Justice Gupta said the practice of wearing hijab could be restricted by the state while Justice Dhulia said it was against the constitutional value of fraternity and integrity. The bench asked for placing the pleas before the CJI. 

Saying that the government order dated February 5 directing government schools in Karnataka to abide by the prescribed uniform and private schools to mandate uniform as decided by their board of management necessarily excluded all religious symbols visible to naked eye, Justice Gupta said, “Anything worn by the students under his/her shirt cannot be said to be objectionable in terms of GO issued.”

Justice Dhulia said: “If she wants to wear a hijab, even inside her classroom, she can’t be stopped, if it is worn as a matter of her choice, as it may be the only way her conservative family will permit her to go to school, and in those cases, hijab is her ticket to education.” 

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