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Karnataka hijab controversy: Stories behind the story

Restore peace, Karnataka High Court says in hijab case

Bench adjourns hearing on petitions to February 14.

February 10, 2022 07:25 pm | Updated February 11, 2022 07:14 am IST - Bengaluru

Students wearing hijab and saffron shawls at MGM PU college in Udupi on February 8, 2022. Photo: Special Arrangement

Students wearing hijab and saffron shawls at MGM PU college in Udupi on February 8, 2022. Photo: Special Arrangement

Indicating that it will pass an interim order, a three-judge Bench of the High Court of Karnataka on Thursday adjourned to February 14 the further hearing on petitions questioning ban on wearing of hijabs (head scarves) by Muslim girl students on college premises.

Towards the end of day’s hearing, Chief Justice Ritu Raj Awasthi indicated to the advocates for the petitioner-students and the State Advocate General that the court will pass an interim order for starting the educational institutions and that all students should not insist on wearing head scarves or saffron shawls till the Bench decides the issues raised in the petitions. The Chief Justice said peace and tranquillity in the State would have to be restored and the court was prepared to hear the matter on day-to-day basis and decide at the earliest.

However, senior advocate Davadatt Kamat, appearing for some of the petitioner-students, said if the court passed such an interim order, even if for a short period, it would amount to “suspension” of the right of freedom to religion of the petitioner-Muslim students.

Mr. Kamat requested the court to record his objection if the Bench was considering to pass an order restraining use of religious attire by all the students till the petitions were decided as it would be “total affront to the petitioners’ rights.”

Following this submission, the Bench, also consisting of Justices Krishna S. Dixit and Jaibunnisa M. Khazi, said it would pass an appropriate order and adjourned the hearing till February 14.

‘No provision in Act’

Earlier, Senior Advocate Sanjay Hegde, appearing for the four Muslim girl students of Government PU College for Girls, contended that the Karnataka Education Act, 1983 had no provision for regulating uniform.

Mr. Hegde also argued that the Rule 11 of the Karnataka Educational Institutions (Classification, Regulation and Prescription of Curricula, etc.) Rules, 1995, under which the government on February 5, 2022 issued a guideline on dress code, was not applicable to the pre-university colleges. The Rules, notified in 2006 for pre-university colleges, had no provision for dress code, he claimed.


Meanwhile, Advocate General Prabhuling K Navadgi told the Bench that the government wanted to restart the educational institutions but it did not want to see students coming in dresses of their choice but should follow the uniform prescribed by the respective institutions.

At this stage, Mr. Kamat said there was no dispute about wearing of uniform and the petitioners too were ready to wear the prescribed uniform but want to wear a hijab of the colour matching to the uniform.

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