A Full Bench of the Karnataka High Court today reserved its judgement on Muslim girl students’ petitions challenging a government PU college’s decision to deny them entry because they wore a hijab. As of this date, the court’s interim order prohibiting students from wearing any religious clothing in class, regardless of their faith, is still in effect.
In this case, the Court must decide whether wearing the hijab is an essential religious practice of Islam and whether state intervention in such matters is justified.
The court must also consider whether wearing the hijab qualifies as a right to expression under Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution and whether restrictions can be imposed only under Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution (2).
In terms of the state government, it has stated that its goal is to maintain a sense of secularism, uniformity, discipline, and public order in educational institutions, rather than interfering with the religious beliefs of any community. The Bench heard rebuttal arguments for petitioners during today’s hearing.
It also dismissed a PIL that sought to prohibit media outlets from pursuing hijab-clad students and teachers on their way to school or college, as well as from videotaping and photographing children and teachers near their schools as they removed their hijabs and burqas.
“The thing is, hadiths show that while the face does not need to be covered, the hijab should be worn. There are plenty of religious traditions, govt has admitted this in their reply,” advocate for petitioners said.
Public interest litigation has been filed in the Supreme Court, requesting the court to order the central and state governments to implement a uniform dress code in all registered and state-recognized educational institutions across the country. The petition was filed by Nikhil Upadhyay, the son of advocate Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay, at a time when cases involving the ban on hijab in government colleges in Karnataka are awaiting in the Karnataka High Court and the Supreme Court.
“Common Dress Code is not only necessary to promote the values of equality, social justice, democracy, and the creation of a just and humane society, but it is also necessary to combat the greatest threat of casteism, communalism, classism, radicalism, separatism, and fundamentalism,” according to the petition.
“According to the petitioner, according to the dress code in countries like the US, the UK, France, Singapore, and China roughly 2,50,000 guns were brought into schools and colleges in 2018 according to a survey. As a result, a Common Dress Code that requires students to expose their beltline reduces the fear of a concealed weapon.”
According to the petitioner, common dress reduces violence while also promoting a more positive educational environment.
It ensures that all students have a similar appearance, reducing the likelihood of bullying and discrimination in schools. It aids students in maintaining their concentration on their studies. When students all wear the same outfit, there are fewer concerns about how each individual will fit in with their classmates.
Using clothing to create uniformity on campus reduces students’ visual comparisons of each other’s socioeconomic status.
In the meantime, the high court in the Karnataka Hijab case issued an interim order ordering the state government to reopen educational institutions and prohibiting students from wearing saffron shawls, scarves, hijab, or any religious flag in the classroom in institutions that have a student dress code or uniform.