Karnataka govt tells SC pro-Hijab students were acting at the behest of Popular Front of India
The Solicitor General of India Tushar Mehta submitted before the court that the movement in support of wearing hijab was designed to create religious discord.
Published: 20th September 2022 04:42 PM | Last Updated: 20th September 2022 04:43 PM | A+A A-
NEW DELHI: Asserting that till 2021, no girl was wearing a hijab in educational institutions, Karnataka Government in the hijab ban case on Tuesday told the Supreme Court that the controversy was provoked by a social media movement started by the Popular Front of India (PFI).
Adding that the movement was designed to create religious discord, Solicitor General of India (SG) Tushar Mehta submitted that it wasn’t a spontaneous act by the students. He submitted before the court that the movement was part of a larger conspiracy and that the students were acting as advised.
“In 2022, the movement started on Social Media by PFI- it was designed to create religious agitation & there were continuous social media messages that started wearing hijab. It is not a spontaneous act & they (students) were part of a larger conspiracy & were acting as advised. This upsurge is not part of their thinking but suddenly an agitation started in September 2021,” Mehta said.
He even referred to Karnataka HC’s order in that regard that had accepted the arguments on the "unseen hands to engineer social disharmony" as police documents were submitted to the court.
Contending that for a practice to be considered an essential religious practice it should be so compelling that if it is not worn it will be thrown out of the religion, Mehta submitted before the bench of Justices Hemant Gupta and Sudhanshu Dhulia said that there was no averment by the students that the practice started with the religion itself.
“You cannot think of a Sikh person without kadha, pagdi anywhere in the world. There was no averment by the petitioners that the practice started with the religion itself. Practice must be shown to be co-existing with the religion itself. No pleading nothing to show that this started with the foundation of the religion. There is no assertion by petitioners that wearing of hijab is a practice from time immemorial, whether it is so compelling that if it is not worn they will be thrown out of the religion,” Mehta said.
Laying emphasis on the recent protest against the hijab in Iran, Mehta further argued that though India is a secular nation, in countries found on the basis of Islam, women were not wearing hijab and they are fighting against it.
“When they assert that right before the Court of law, merely mention in the Quran will not by itself make it an essential religious practice, it may become a religious practice. Uniform is for uniformity, and equality amongst all students. When you want to cross that, your test should be at a higher threshold,” he further added.
Karnataka Government’s decision is not an order which prevents a particular community of students to not wear particular apparel but it has to be uniform, Mehta also told.
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Mehta further said it would be doing a disservice that impugned notification prohibits only hijab & targets one religion, other communities started coming in saffron gamcha, so even that was prohibited. If the government hadn't acted it would’ve been guilty of dereliction of constitutional duty. The level of discipline cannot vary from individual to individual..and this is for uniformity not harming anyone.
The State can regulate secular activities related to religion but not religion itself, Advocate General for the State argued.
For the girl student Munisha Bushra Abedi challenging HC’s order, Senior Advocate Dushyant Dave submitted that a series of acts have been committed to targeting the Muslims in the state since 2 years. Questioning the basis of the Government Order which restrained students to wear the hijab or customary Islamic headscarf to educational institutions, Dave said for Muslims, headgear could not be prohibited. He also added that uniform was an unnecessary burden on the majority section of society and many people didn’t have the money to buy uniforms.
“Uniform is a leveller, to avoid disparity. Your richness or poverty can't be made out from the uniform,” Justice Gupta remarked.
“Nobody’s peace is violated & there’s no danger to tranquility. In this case dignity is very important. Hijab adds to the dignity of the woman. Like Hindu women when she covers her head in saree, she feels dignified,” Dave remarked.