K'taka hijab ban: SC to set up bench to hear plea of Muslim girls for nod to take exam in headscarf

The court had said it will take a call on listing a plea for allowing Muslim girl students to sit for examinations in Karnataka government schools while wearing hijab.

Published: 03rd March 2023 12:45 PM  |   Last Updated: 04th March 2023 09:50 AM   |  A+A-

Supreme Court

A view of the Supreme Court of India in New Delhi. (File Photo | Shekar Yadav, EPS)

Express News Service

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Friday said it will create a bench and list the pleas by a group of girl students from Karnataka seeking permission to take exams in government colleges wearing hijab after Holi. Chief Justice of India D Y Chandrachud agreed to list the plea, pursuant to a request made by an advocate for Shariat Committee.

Urging the bench, comprising Justices PS Narasimha and JB Pardiwala, besides the CJI, to list the same, the lawyer said hijab-wearing students have already lost one year because of the ban. “What about this academic year? Should they lose this also?” she asked.

“I can’t answer your questions. A bench will be constituted after the Holi break,” the CJI remarked.
Earlier also, the court had agreed to take a call on a plea by a group of girl students from Karnataka seeking permission to take exams in wearing hijab. Urging the bench comprising the CJI and Justice P S Narasimha to list the plea before March 9, Farasat told the bench that the girls are not being allowed to take exams wearing hijab. He said the girl students have lost one year due to this.

“They have already lost one year. They don’t want to lose one more year. The prayer is only to let them take part in the exam. I am not seeking any other directions. They are not being allowed to take exams because of the difference of opinion between Justices Gupta and Dhulia,” Farasat said.

“I will take a call on this,” the CJI said. The SC on January 23 agreed to consider setting up a three-judge bench for hearing pleas challenging the Karnataka high court’s ruling of upholding the prohibition of wearing hijab in educational institutions of the state following a split verdict.

Senior Advocate Meenakshi Arora had submitted before the bench that although the students pursuant to the ban had started going to private institutions but the interim directions were required to permit them to appear for exams that are conducted in government colleges.

A two-judge bench of Justices Hemant Gupta and Sudhanshu Dhulia on October 13 delivered a split verdict. While upholding the ban on the hijab, Justice Hemant Gupta in his judgment said that the practice of wearing hijab could be restricted by the state as per the Government order.

Justice Sudhanshu Dhulia while quashing the government order said it was against the constitutional value of fraternity and integrity. The bench due to divergence in opinion asked for placing the pleas before the CJI for constituting an appropriate bench.

Remarking that the government order dated February 5 that directed state 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 the naked eye, Justice Gupta said, “Anything worn by the students under his/her shirt cannot be said to be objectionable in terms of government order issued.”


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