Split verdict by Supreme Court on Karnataka hijab ban. What you need to know about the controversial case

Mohammad Bilal
Mohammad BilalOct 13, 2022 | 12:50

Split verdict by Supreme Court on Karnataka hijab ban. What you need to know about the controversial case

Supreme Court of India delivered a split verdict in the Karnataka hijab ban case. Photo: India Today

The Supreme Court on Thursday (October 13) delivered a split verdict on pleas challenging the Karnataka High Court judgment refusing to lift the ban on hijab in educational institutions of the state.

The bench comprising Justice Hemant Gupta and Sudhandhu Dhulia pronounced the verdict. Karnataka HC had held in March, 2022 that hijab was not an essential part of Islam and had allowed the ban.


What the bench said: Justice Gupta decided to dismiss all the appeals in his decision. "I have answered all the questions against the appeals. I am proposing to dismiss the appeals," he said.

Justice Dhulia, on the other hand, allowed the appeals setting aside the judgment of the Karnataka HC. "The main thrust of my judgement is the entire concept of essential religious practice was not essential to the dispute. The High Court took a wrong path. It is ultimately a matter of choice and Article 14 and 19. It is a matter of choice and nothing less," he said.

The matter has been referred to the Chief Justice of India. In the view of the split verdict, the Karnataka HC verdict will be applicable for the time being.

Girls in Hijab outside college in Udupi, South Karnataka. Photo: Getty Images

What is the hijab ban issue? The whole saga began on December 28, 2021, when six girls wearing hijab were denied entry in a pre-university government college in Karnataka's Udupi. 

  • The Udupi college had issued guidelines in July 2021 prescribing a uniform civil code.
  • The six students and their parents met the college authorities to reach an amicable settlement.
  • The students met Deputy Director, PU College and DC demanding entry to classrooms.
  • On January 1, the students claimed that the teachers conducted illegal meetings with college departments and gave an order to not to wear hijab in college.
  • On January 13, girls protested outside the Udupi college for being denied entry while wearing hijab.
  • A petition was filed in the Karnataka High Court challenging the decision of the Udupi college.
  • The issue escalated to other colleges and soon saffron clad students came up against girls wearing hijab. The Basavraj Bommai government in Karnataka, issued a controversial order on February 5 saying that girls will not be allowed to attend college while wearing hijab.
  • On February 10, Karnataka HC ordered  that students should not wear headscarves to colleges until the court passes a verdict.
  • On March 15, 2022, the HC upheld the decision of the government to ban the hijab saying that hijab is not an essential part of Islam.
  • The decision was challenged in the Supreme Court of India.
Last updated: October 13, 2022 | 12:50
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