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Karnataka High Court rejects pro-hijab petitions, says hijab is not part of essential religious practice in Islam

IndiaKarnataka High Court rejects pro-hijab petitions, says hijab is not part of essential religious practice in Islam

the Court said wearing of hijab by Muslim women is not part of essential religious practice under Islam and prescription of school uniform is only a reasonable restriction which students cannot object.

Karnataka High Court on Tuesday dismissed a bunch of petitions filed by Muslim girl students seeking a direction to allow them to wear hijab in classrooms during teaching hours. Pronouncing the judgement, the Court said wearing of hijab by Muslim women is not part of essential religious practice under Islam and prescription of school uniform is only a reasonable restriction which students cannot object.

The bench also observed that the state government has the power to issue an order in this regard. The judgment was delivered by a three-judge Bench of Chief Justice Ritu Raj Awasthi and Justices Krishna S Dixit and JM Khazi. On the 11th day, the Court had completed the hearing on the matter and reserved its verdict on February 25.

The Bench had passed an interim order ordering students not to wear hijab, saffron shawls or use any religious flags while attending classes in colleges which have a prescribed dress code. The controversy erupted after few Muslim girl students of a government pre-university college had been denied entry because they were wearing hijabs during teaching hours in classroom.

They argued that hijab is part of their religion and cultural practice. The matter was first listed before a single bench of Justice Krishna S Dixit which referred to a larger bench observing that “questions of seminal importance” are involved.

The respondent, that is the state government, argued that wearing of hijab does not fall within the essential religious practice of Islam and right to wear hijab cannot be traced to freedom of expression under Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution. The government also argued that its February 5 order is in consonance with the Education Act and wearing hijab does not stand the test of constitutional morality and individual dignity, laid down by the Supreme Court.

The Respondent college and its teachers contended that students must follow the prescribed uniform to maintain discipline and public order. The petitioners heavily banked on a verdict of the Constitutional Court of South Africa that upheld the right of a Hindu girl from South India to wear a nose ring to school.

They also challenged February 5 Government Order which allegedly targets the Muslim community. Meanwhile, Section 144 (Prohibitory Orders) CrPC was imposed in Bengaluru city and many parts of Karnataka from Tuesday till March 21 by police in view of hijab judgment.

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