Hijab row | National

Student moves Supreme Court against HC ruling on hijab

A view of the Karnataka High Court building, in Bengaluru, Tuesday, March 15, 2022.

A view of the Karnataka High Court building, in Bengaluru, Tuesday, March 15, 2022. | Photo Credit: SHAILENDRA BHOJAK

A student on Tuesday moved the Supreme Court against the Karnataka High Court judgment, which held that wearing hijab is not an essential practice in Islam.

Niha Naaz, represented by advocate Anas Tanwir, countered the High Court’s conclusion by arguing that the “Indian legal system explicitly recognises the wearing/carrying of religious symbols... Motor Vehicles Act exempts turban-wearing Sikhs from wearing a helmet... Sikhs are allowed to carry kirpans into an aircraft”.

She said denying Muslim girls like her access to education, and thus, punishing them for wearing hijab to college was a violation of their right to privacy. “Freedom of conscience form a part of the right to privacy,” her petition stated.

‘Law must be proportionate’

Any infringement of her right to privacy should be on the basis of a valid law, for a legitimate state interest and the law must be proportionate. No law prohibited hijab, she said.

Ms. Naaz argued that the High Court judgment had created a “dichotomy of freedom of religion and freedom of conscience”.

“This freedom would include the freedom to lawfully express one’s identity in the manner of their liking,” she referred to the Supreme Court judgment in the Navtej Singh Johar case.

The student said she and several others like her had approached the High Court, expecting it to protect her fundamental rights and quash a State government order of February 5 directing college development committees to prescribe uniforms for them.

She termed the State government’s order as as a “ridiculing attack” on Muslim students wearing hijab under the “guise of attaining secularity and equality on the basis of uniform”.

‘State cannot prescribe uniforms’

She said the State cannot prescribe uniforms for students. It was for educational institutions to do so. Moreover, the law did not provide for the formation of “college development committees”. Further, Karnataka Educational Institutions Rules of 1995 did not make it mandatory for a school or institution to prescribe a uniform. In their case, no uniform had been prescribed by their respective institutions.

The law did not require a student to be punished for not wearing a particular uniform. The act of denying students like her access to classrooms was illegal, she argued.

In February, in a petition connected to the Karnataka hijab controversy, the Supreme Court made a preliminary remark that it would protect the constitutional rights of students and intervene an “appropriate time”.


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Printable version | Jun 17, 2022 8:41:36 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/student-moves-supreme-court-against-hc-ruling-on-hijab/article65228452.ece