Hijab ban: Petitioners call Karnataka govt order 'death knell' for students secular education during SC hearing

Senior advocate Huzefa Ahmadi further argued that the Karnataka government's order against the wearing of hijab in schools misunderstands the concept of fraternity, and by prohibiting hijab in schools, the government has virtually forced Muslim girl students out of school.

IANSUpdated: Wednesday, September 14, 2022, 08:04 PM IST
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The hearing on the petitions challenging the Karnataka High Court's judgement of March 15 upholding the ban on Hijab in pre-university colleges will continue on Thursday. | File

New Delhi: The Supreme Court was told on Wednesday by petitioners representing hijab-wearing girls that the Karnataka government order (GO) disallowing the head covering will spell a 'death knell for students' desire to take secular education, as the counsel further queried what is the degree of discipline affected by allowing someone to wear the hijab?

Senior advocate Huzefa Ahmadi contended before a bench comprising justices Hemant Gupta and Sudhanshu Dhulia that most of the girls wearing hijab come from conservative families and queried what will be the natural fallout of this.

He vehemently argued that the state's legitimate interest is to encourage diversity and not have uniformity in all practices and why should someone feel that someone's religious observances obstruct secular education or unity?

Ahmadi further argued that the Karnataka government's order against the wearing of hijab in schools misunderstands the concept of fraternity, and by prohibiting hijab in schools, the government has virtually forced Muslim girl students out of school. He added that there was no legitimate interest of the state in imposing a ban. Huzefa said the GO, even if it appears to be neutral, has to be struck down for running foul of Article 14 of the Constitution. "If it targets a particular community," he said, adding that certain students from a community have broken the stereotype and went to school with a headscarf.

Huzefa emphasised, "The GO will strike a death knell for their (students') secular education" and contended that disallowing hijab would create barriers to education and fraternity. He said it would go contrary to the principle of fraternity in the preamble of the Constitution if it is said that hijab would not be allowed.

Citing the PUCL report, Ahmadi submitted that several students dropped out of school after the Karnataka High Court judgment on hijab on March 15. However, the top court expressed its concerns on the neutrality of the report.

On September 12, Senior advocate Yusuf Mucchala, representing petitioners in the hijab ban case, told the Supreme Court that Karnataka High Court faulted by opining wearing of the headscarf as not being the essential practice of Islam, since the court had no expertise in the filed suit, it should not have gone into the issue whether hijab was an essential religious practice by interpreting the Quran.

The hearing on the petitions challenging the Karnataka High Court's judgement of March 15 upholding the ban on Hijab in pre-university colleges will continue on Thursday.

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