The High Court of Karnataka will hear on February 8 the petitions filed by five Muslim girls studying in a Government Pre-university College for Girls, Udupi, seeking a declaration from the court that they have a ‘fundamental right to practice essential religious practices, including wearing of Hijab (head scarf) as per Islamic faith, on college premises.’
Justice Krishna S. Dixit, before whom the petitions filed by Ayesha Hajeera Almas and others came up for hearing, has adjourned further hearing till February 8 as the Advocate-General sought time to respond to the issues raised in the petitions. The petitioner-girls, in one of the petitions, have said that they were being discriminated by the teaching staff of the college since September last year citing uniform dress code and later they were not allowed to attend classes as they were wearing Hijabs.
They have also complained that after the meeting of the College Development Committee, of which Udupi MLA Raghupathi Bhat is a ‘self-claimed’ president, they were not allowed to enter the college premises by wearing Hijabs.
In a separate petition, Rasham (17), represented by her brother, has contended that religious practice of wearing of Hijab is neither entangled in public law nor is there any conflict between her right to religious freedom and the State’s duty to regulate public affairs in matters of general nature or secular activities.
“The right of women to have the choice of dress based on religious injunctions is a fundamental right protected under Article 25(1) when such prescription of dress is an essential part of religion... Quranic injunctions and the Hadiths would show that it is a ‘farz’ to cover the head and wear the long sleeved dress except face part and exposing the body otherwise is forbidden (haram),” it has been contended in the petition.
“A mere wearing of a Hijab being an essential part of Islamic religion cannot be the sole ground to deny education to the petitioner, thus it is nothing but a draconian manner of exercising state action pleasure by malafides,” it has been argued in the petition.