On Tuesday, March 15, a Karnataka high court bench led by Chief Justice Ritu Raj Awasthi issued a ruling on the hijab issue. The wearing of the hijab is not an essential practice of the religion, according to Chief Justice Ritu Raj Awasthi, who upheld the ban on hijab in schools and colleges.
“Wear of the hijab by Muslim women is not an essential religious practise under Islam,” he said. The requirement of a school uniform is merely a reasonable restriction to which students are not entitled to object. The government has the authority to issue an order on the matter.”
The Hijab row, which began as a protest by six students from the Udupi Pre-University Girl’s College, quickly escalated into a major crisis.
Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai expressed an urge for peace and harmony following the HC judgement. “All students should abide with the high court’s decision and not boycott courses or exams.” We’ll have to follow the court’s rulings, and anyone who tries to take law and order into their own hands will face severe consequences,” Bommai warned.
The high court issued an interim injunction on February 10 prohibiting students from wearing saffron shawls, (bhagwa) scarves, hijab, religious flags, or the like in the classroom until the final ruling was issued. Regardless of the High Court’s decision on Tuesday, the outcome is likely to proceed to the Supreme Court.
“There is absolutely no material placed on record to prima facie show that wearing of Hijab is a part of an essential religious practice in Islam and that the petitioners have been wearing hijab from the beginning,” the three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice Ritu Raj Awasthi, the others being Justices Krishna S Dixit and J M Khazi, noted
The way the hijab row at government preuniversity (PU) campuses has played out since December 2021 adds weight to the allegation that “unseen hands” sparked the crisis. In its ruling, the High Court also ordered a prompt and thorough investigation of the protesters’ provocations, based on a secret report provided to the court by the state police through state advocate general Prabhuling Navadagi.
“We are shocked at how the problem of hijab has been raised and blown out of proportion by the powers that be, especially in the middle of the academic year.” The way the hijab saga has progressed lends weight to the argument that some “unseen hands” are at work to engineer social unrest and disharmony,” the High Court stated in its order.
BJP’s communal agenda: Opposition claim
According to Maharashtra AIMIM chief and Aurangabad Lok Sabha MP Imitiaz Jaleel, the Karnataka High Court’s decision to dismiss petitions seeking permission to wear hijab in the classroom will reduce the ratio of Muslim women seeking education. After the Karnataka High Court dismissed petitions challenging the state government’s ban on hijab in schools and colleges, Congress said on Tuesday that the BJP government, led by Chief Minister Basavaraj S Bommai, is responsible for ensuring the education of girls and maintaining peace and harmony.
The Karnataka government should ensure that no one is allowed to vitiate the atmosphere in schools and colleges and that peace is not sacrificed for the BJP’s aim of polarisation on religious issues, according to Congress general secretary and chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala.
On Tuesday, the Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind, a prominent Muslim organisation, expressed deep disappointment with the Karnataka High Court’s decision to uphold the ban on hijab in educational institutions in the state, claiming that the decision would have a negative impact on religious freedom and Muslim girls’ education.
The High Court ruled on Tuesday that the hijab is not an essential religious practice in the Islamic faith, thus upholding the prohibition on the headscarf at state educational institutions by dismissing Muslim girls’ requests to wear it in class.
The ruling was “extremely upsetting,” according to Maulana Mahmood Madani, president of Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind (Mahmood Madani group), and the verdict will have a direct influence on religious freedom.
CM Appeals for harmony, students say won’t attend college
Muslim students who had fought the ban promised not to return to school unless they received “justice.” Students said they hope the Supreme Court will offer them “some relief” before the April 22 start date of Class 12 (second Pre-University) board exams. “When we first highlighted the matter, it might have been remedied by allowing us into the classroom. Thousands of Muslim students across the state are now affected since our principal and lecturers declined (permission to attend class in hijab). At the news conference, another student stated, “Many parents are unwilling to send their children to college.”
Karnataka Hijab Ban Challenged In Supreme Court After High Court Upholds
Niba Naaz, a student who was not one of the five students who originally petitioned against the hijab ban, has challenged the order at the Supreme Court. The Karnataka High Court refused to overturn the state government’s ban and dismissed the students’ petitions, saying, “We are of the considered opinion that wearing of hijab by Muslim women does not form a part of important religious practise in the Islamic religion.” The government had banned mass gatherings in towns like Bengaluru, Mangaluru, and Shivamogga for a week, anticipating tension. In Udupi, where the protests began in December, schools and institutions are closed.
- Under Article 25 of the constitution, whether wearing the headscarf is an essential religious practise in the Islamic faith.
- Whether the requirement of a school uniform is a violation of Article 19(1)(a), which guarantees freedom of expression, and Article 21, which guarantees the right to privacy.
- Whether the February 5, 2022, government order was incompetent, arbitrary, and a violation of Articles 14 and 15 of the Constitution, which guarantee the right to equality and protection against discrimination.
- Whether officials at government colleges should face disciplinary action for forbidding hijab-wearing students from attending lessons.
Allowing Muslim women to wear the hijab in classrooms would impede their emancipation and go against the constitutional ethos of “positive secularism,” according to the three-judge panel.
The 129-page judgement uses passages from the Quran and Islamic writings to argue that wearing the headscarf is not a religious requirement.
“There is enough intrinsic material in the scripture itself to support the idea that wearing hijab is only recommended, if at all.” The order states that “what is not religiously deemed necessary cannot be made a quintessential part of the faith through public agitation or passionate arguments in court.”