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Hijab not essential part of Islam, let educational institutes decide the dress code: Karnataka High Court

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The Karnataka High Court on Tuesday put the ball in the court of education institutes, stating that since hijab is not an essential part of Islam, it is the discretion of these institutes to decided on the dress code, and that the government has the power to issue an order, so no case is made out for disciplinary action against it.

The full Bench, headed by Chief Justice Ritu Raj Awasthi and also comprising Justice Krishna S. Dixit and Justice J.M. Khazi, delivered its verdict on a batch of petitions filed by Muslim girls, challenging the Karnataka government order against wearing of hijab to education institutes.

The Court said the questions which have been formulated, include whether wearing Hijab/scarf is a part of essential religious practice in Islamic faith protected under Article 25 of the Constitution.

The second question is whether the description of School uniform is not legally permissible as being violative of fundamental rights guaranteed under article 19 (1)(a) that is freedom of expression and article 21 that is privacy of the constitution the question is whether the government order dated 5.2.2022 apart from being incompetent is issued without application of mind and further is manifestly arbitrary and therefore violates article 14 and 15 of the constitution. Question is whether any case is made out in writ petition number 2146 of 2022 for issuance of a direction for initiating disciplinary enquiry against respondent number 6 to 14 and for issuance of a writ of quo warranto against the respondent number 15 and 16.
The answer to first question is we are of considered opinion that wearing off by Muslim women does not form a part of essential religious practice in Islamic religion.

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The answer to our second question is we are of the considered opinion that the prescription of a school uniform is only a reasonable restriction allowed under constitutional reforms which the students can not object.

To answer the third question, we are of the considered opinion that the government has power to issue the impugned government order dated 5.2.2022 and no case is made out for its in validation. No case is made out in writ petition number 2146 of 2022 for issuance of direction for initiating disciplinary enquiry against respondents. The prayer for issuance of writ of quo warranto against respond a number 15 and 16 is rejected being not maintainable accordingly in the above circumstances all this writ petitions being provided of merits are liable to be an accordingly dismissed in which of definition of these traditions of the pending applications pale into insignificance and accordingly, it is disposed off, the High Court held today.

Muslim women students had moved the High Court against the ban on wearing Hijab by certain Karnataka colleges.

Hearing on the matter had lasted for 11 days, before the Court reserved its verdict on February 25.

On January 1, six girl students of a college in Udupi had attended a press conference held the by Campus Front of India (CFI) in the coastal town, protesting against the college authorities denying them entry into classrooms wearing hijab.

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This was four days after they requested the Principal to allow them to wear hijab in classes. Till then, the students used to wear the headscarf to the campus, but entered the classroom after removing it, College Principal Rudre Gowda had said.

“The institution did not have any rule on hijab-wearing since no one used to wear it to the classroom in the last 35 years. The students who came with the demand, had the backing of outside forces”

-Gowda had said.

The Karnataka government submitted details of CFI in the High Court. PU College, which has become the epicentre of hijab controversy in the state, on Monday told the High Court that CFI was a radical organisation that was spearheading the row.

Counsel for the PU College, Senior Advocate S.S. Naganand, said that the uniform was made compulsory by the college in 2004 and there had been no issue until the CFI met some students, who wanted to wear hijab to college.

The state government on Thursday informed the High Court that a first information report (FIR) has been registered against the members of CFI, who had allegedly threatened some teachers in the Government Pre-University Girls College in Udupi district.

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