Karnataka Government needs to justify the restraint on wearing hijabs, says petitioners’ counsel

The burden of justifying the restraint on wearing hijab rests on the State of Karnataka, says senior advocate Muchhala, speaking for the petitioners

Updated - September 22, 2022 09:41 am IST

Published - September 12, 2022 10:22 pm IST - NEW DELHI

Students who refused to attend classes coming out from G. Shankar Govt First Grade College in Udupi on Wednesday, and (below) students attending class wearing hijabs in Bengaluru.

Students who refused to attend classes coming out from G. Shankar Govt First Grade College in Udupi on Wednesday, and (below) students attending class wearing hijabs in Bengaluru. | Photo Credit: H.S. MANJUNATH

Karnataka has to first prove how forbidding hijab among students affects the sovereignty and integrity of India, its security or friendly relations with foreign states or even public order, decency or morality, the Sharia Committee of Women argued against the ban on Muslim girls wearing hijab to school.

Appearing before a Bench of Justice Hemant Gupta and Sudhanshu Dhulia, senior advocate Y.H. Muchhala said the burden of justifying the restraint on wearing hijab rests on the State.

Also Read | Positive secularism is allowed, student tells Supreme Court in Hijab case

“Wearing of hijab does not confer any special benefit to the Muslim girls nor does it defeat the purpose of the law. The purpose of uniform is not to erase the markers of individuality. Simply by wearing the prescribed dress code, diverse distinctions that exist amongst students do not evaporate. In multicultural societies, students should be taught to acknowledge, accept and respect diversities in the society,” Mr. Muchhala argued.

The State has bent over backwards to appease “obstructionists” at the cost of violating the time-tested fundamental rights of the students, he said.

The senior lawyer said it was not necessary for a Muslim woman to justify her individual action of wearing hijab as an essential religious practice.

“Every religious minority has the fundamental right to conserve its religio-cultural identity. The Muslim girl students are adherents of Islam and in their individual capacities, they have a right to display/express their religio-cultural manifestations by wearing hijab,” Mr. Muchhala submitted.

The ability of an individual to protect a zone of privacy enables the realisation of the full value of life and liberty, he noted.

The lawyer argued that the denial of the right to education of Muslim girls across India would have serious ramifications. The aftershock would be equally profound for Muslim women employed or seeking employment opportunities, he said.

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