Karnataka hijab ban: Supreme Court issues notice on plea seeking stay; next hearing on September 5

The apex court said it will not accept a plea seeking adjournment, as an early hearing was sought, and issued a notice to Karnataka Government on the plea

FPJ Web DeskUpdated: Monday, August 29, 2022, 11:36 AM IST
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The Supreme Court on Monday sought response from the Karnataka government on pleas challenging the Karnataka High Court verdict refusing to lift the ban on hijab in educational institutions of the state | File

The Supreme Court on Monday issued a notice on a plea seeking a stay on the Karnataka High Court's order upholding the ban on hijabs in educational institutions in the state.

A bench of Justices Hemant Gupta and Sudhanshu Dhulia issued notice to the state on the pleas and posted them for hearing on September 5.

The bench pulled up some of the petitioners, who sought adjournment in the matter, and said it would not permit "this kind of forum shopping".

The apex court said it will not accept a plea seeking adjournment, as an early hearing was sought, and issued a notice to Karnataka Government on the plea.

"You wanted urgent hearing and when the matter is listed, you seek adjournment. We will not permit forum shopping," Justice Hemant Gupta said.

Earlier, the pleas were mentioned before a bench headed by the then CJI NV Ramana for urgent hearing on several occasions but the case was not listed for hearing.

The appeals were filed in the apex court challenging the order upholding the Karnataka government's order which directed strict enforcement of schools and colleges' uniform rules.

One of the appeals in the top court has alleged "step-motherly behaviour of government authorities which has prevented students from practising their faith and resulted in an unwanted law and order situation".

The appeal said the High Court in its impugned order "had vehemently failed to apply its mind and was unable to understand the gravity of the situation as well as the core aspect of the Essential Religious Practices enshrined under Article 25 of the Constitution of India".

"Wearing of Hijab or headscarf is a practice that is essential to the practice of Islam," it has added.

Karnataka's hijab ban

The Karnataka High Court in March had held that the prescription of uniforms is a reasonable restriction that students could not object to and dismissed various petitions challenging a ban on Hijab in education institutions saying they are without merit.

The Hijab row had erupted in January this year when the Government PU College in Udupi allegedly barred six girls wearing the hijab from entering. Following this, the girls sat in protest outside college over being denied entry.

After this, boys of several colleges in Udupi started attending classes wearing saffron scarves. This protest spread to other parts of the state as well leading to protests and agitations in several places in Karnataka.

As a result, the Karnataka government said that all students must adhere to the uniform and banned both hijab and saffron scarves till an expert committee decides on the issue.

On February 5, the pre-University education board released a circular stating that the students can only wear the uniform approved by the school administration and that no other religious attire will be allowed in colleges.

The order stated that in case a uniform is not prescribed by management committees, then students should wear dresses that go well with the idea of equality and unity, and do not disturb the social order.

A batch of appeals was filed against the government's rule in the Karnataka High Court by some girls seeking permission to wear the hijab in educational institutions.

On February 10, the High Court had issued an interim order stating that students should not wear any religious attire to classes till the court issues the final order. The hearings related to the Hijab case were concluded on February 25 and the court had reserved its judgement.

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