'Wearing Hijab not essential religious practice': HC dismisses petitions of Udupi college girls
The court also said that no case is made out to issue direction to initiate disciplinary proceedings against authorities of college in Udupi district who were not allowed students for wearing Hijab.
BENGALURU: In a landmark judgment, the Karnataka High Court ruled that wearing of hijab by Muslim women is does not form essential religious practice in the Islamic faith and prescribing uniform is not a violation of fundamental rights guaranteed under Article 19(1)(a) and 25 of the Constitution.
Answering the question of whether the prescription of school uniform is not legally permissible as being violated petitioners' fundamental rights guaranteed under Article 19(1) (a) (freedom of expression and Article 21 (privacy), the court said that the prescribing uniform is a reasonable restriction which is constitutionally permitted which cannot be objected by the students.
Upholding the government order dated February 5, 2022, banning the hijab in classrooms, a full bench of Chief Justice Ritu Raj Awasthi, Justices Krishna S Dixit and Justice JM Khazi pronounced the much-awaited verdict of a batch of petitions questioning the order passed by the state government banning the wearing of hijab in classrooms.
Dismissing the batch of petitions devoid of merits, the court noted that the government has the power to issue order prescribing uniform. The court also said that no case is made out to issue direction to initiate disciplinary proceedings against the authorities of the college in the Udupi district who were not allowed students for wearing hijab.
The petitioners-students from Government PU College for Girls at Udupi and several others have challenged the government order.
Purdah or burqa may not be an essential practice but a headscarf or hijab is an essential part of Islam, and two judgments of the Kerala High Court and the Madras High Court, which has gone through Islamic verses and scriptures, have arrived at this conclusion, the petitioners' counsels argued.
On the counter, the state government contended that the hijab is not an essential religious practice. Citing several supreme court's judgments, starting from Shirur Mutt to Sabarimala cases, in support of his arguments that wearing hijab is not essential religious practice under Article 25 of the Constitution, the state argued that petitioners-students have placed zero materials to substantiate their claim to declare that wearing hijab is an essential religious practice.
On February 10, 2022, the full bench had passed the interim order restraining all the students regardless of their religion or faith from wearing saffron shawl (Bhagwa), scarfs, hijab, religious flags or the like within the classroom, pending consideration of the petitions.
However, the court made it clear that this interim order is confined to such of the institutions wherein the College Development Committees (CDCs) have prescribed the student dress code/uniform. Later, the court had clarified that the interim order will apply to degree colleges also.
On January 1, six girl students of a college in Udupi attended a press conference held by Campus Front of India (CFI) in the coastal town protesting against the college authorities denying them entry into the classroom wearing Hijab.
This was four days after they requested the principal permission to wear Hijabs in classrooms which was not allowed.
Till then, students used to wear Hijab to the campus and entered the classroom after removing the scarves, the college principal Rudre Gowda had said.
"The institution did not have any rule on Hijab-wearing as such and no one used to wear it to the classroom in the last 35 years. The students who came with the demand had the backing of outside forces," Gowda had said.
(With PTI Inputs)