Karnataka hijab ban: Supreme Court concludes hearing, reserves verdict
New Delhi: After a 10-day long hearing, the Supreme Court on Thursday reserved its order on various petitions challenging the Karnataka High Court upholding the ban on hijab in educational institutions. The Karnataka High Court had on March 15 dismissed petitions filed by a section of Muslim students of the Government Pre-University Girls College in Udupi, seeking permission to wear the hijab inside the classroom, saying it was in keeping with the Islamic faith. Not necessarily part of religious practice.
The state government, by its order dated February 5, 2022, had banned the wearing of clothes that disturbed equality, integrity and public order in schools and colleges.
During the 10 days of hearing, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, Karnataka Advocate General Prabhuling K Navadgi and Additional Solicitor General KM Natraj argued on behalf of the state, while senior advocates Dushyant Dave and Salman Khurshid presented the views of the Muslim petitioners.
The petitioners – Muslim girl students of various colleges in Karnataka – had approached the High Court after they refused to attend classes due to wearing hijab.
A three-judge Bench of then Chief Justice Ritu Raj Awasthi and Justice Krishna S Dixit and Justice JM Khaji observed that:
- The hijab is not part of the essential religious practices of Islam;
- The requirement of uniform is a reasonable restriction on the fundamental right to freedom of expression under Article 19(1)(a);
- The government has the power to pass the GO; No case is made out to invalidate it.