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Karnataka hijab controversy: Stories behind the story

Muslim girl students had signed undertaking on dress code: Govt.

February 09, 2022 11:03 pm | Updated 11:03 pm IST - Bengaluru

Bengaluru / Karnataka : 19/08/2020 :  A view of High Court of Karnataka  on 19 August 2020.  Photo : V Sreenivasa  Murthy/The Hindu.

Bengaluru / Karnataka : 19/08/2020 : A view of High Court of Karnataka on 19 August 2020. Photo : V Sreenivasa  Murthy/The Hindu.

Contending that wearing of hijab is not an essential religious practice, the State Government on Wednesday told the High Court of Karnataka that the petitioner Muslim girl students from the Government PU College for Girls, Udupi, had voluntarily signed the undertakings to adhere to the dress code and other disciplines of the institution like all other students when they were admitted to the college in August 2020.

“The petitioner students were following the dress code and they did not seek any exemption till December 2021. It is only in December last year that they unnecessarily raised the issue,” the Government stated in its written statement of objection opposing the petitions, in which five Muslim girl students of Udupi college have questioned ban on wearing of hijabs (headscarf) on the college premises.

Stating that the Rule 11 of the Karnataka Educational Institutions (Classification, Regulation and Prescription of Curricula, etc) Rules, 1995, empowers the educational institutions to specify their own set of uniform, the Government said that PU College for Girls in Uudpi had made its uniform mandatory, and the students and parents were aware of it.

“The petitioners while invoking the equitable writ jurisdiction ought to have disclosed this aspect before the court. Having not approached the court in clean hands, they are not entitled to any equitable relief, and they are now stopped from contending otherwise,” the Government contended.

Defending the February 5 Government Order prescribing dress code policy for all schools, and pre-universities, the Government said the order was issued to maintain public order, to provide equal treatment to all students, to avoid unnecessary controversy in educational institution, and to maintain secularism among students.

The issuance of GO was necessitated due to controversy raised by the petitioner students and claim of other students on their right to wear dresses of their beliefs and pattern, the Government said.

Ban abroad

Pointing out that there would be chaos and confusion, and conflicting interest may lead to a law and order situation if exceptions, exemptions are given to certain people in the name of community, religion, as others will also demand their claim, the Government contended that many countries had adopted this view. “Some countries have banned hijab in public places. Such decisions are welcomed across the world and the courts of such countries have upheld them,” said the Government.

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