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Hijab matter: There is nothing like an absolute freedom, it can always be restricted and controlled

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The Supreme Court has said today that allowing the Muslim girl students to adorn Hijab in schools and colleges can also be viewed in the sense of exposing the rest of the students to the varied diversity of the country.

During the hearing, these observations was made by Justice Sudhanshu Dhulia, who was hearing the appeals which challenged the Karnataka High Court verdict that upheld the ban on wearing Hijab.

Justice Dhulia contemplated an alternative perspective to the arguments in wearing of Hijab by the Muslim girls and said that it can also be said that wearing hijab is an opportunity for being exposed to diversity. We have students for all cultures, religions. We all need to be culturally sensitive towards them.

Justice Dhulia said this while replying to the submission made by Senior Advocate R Venkataramani, who said that teachers simply want free interaction with students without any walls of separation and assertions of identity.

The Bench has today finished hearing all the respondents in the appeal, which includes the State government and teachers.

The Karnataka government kept its earlier argument stating that it was not targeting any particular religion, but was simply acting with an aim to ensure that discipline was maintained in schools.

The Advocate General (AG) for Karnataka Prabhuling K Navadgi also said that everything that quran mentions cannot be an essential religious practice, since such an assumption would prove impractical.

He added that with all due respect he agrees that every aspect of Quran, with great reverence, may be religious but whether it’s essential has to be seen on the court’s test. He added that Women who choose not to wear hijab are no less Islamic . If it is so obligatory and compulsory…this is one of the tests we may have to apply.

The AG also rebuted the stand of the petitioners saying this action was violative of their right to freedom of expression on the ground that the Karnataka Education Act has a clear objective of bringing discipline in schools.

He explained that the question whether it is a remote effect or proximate effect? Our Karnataka legislation is not for dress. If incidentally, there is an infraction – that legislation cannot be called into question,

Further, he submitted that there was nothing like an absolute freedom, and that every freedom could be restricted and controlled.

Additional Solicitor General KM Nataraj said that to the Court that there was no “ban” on the Hijab.

He said the State has only prescribed that you can prescribe uniform which is religion neutral. State has neither prohibited or promoted any religious activity.

He said that the intent behind the government order was to promote oneness. In that light, he contended that no one in a secular institution could complain.

The Court will hear rebuttals by the appellants in the case tomorrow.

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