The controversy over wearing hijab inside schools and other educational institutions is threatening to undo the communal harmony of Karnataka and also the entire country. All eyes are on Karnataka High Court to decide on the matter.
Protest in Mumbai against the 'Hijab ban' in Karnataka schools and colleges. Photo: Getty Images
Karnataka High Court is hearing a bunch of petitions filed by students who want the right to wear hijab to schools and colleges. On Thursday, February 10, 2022, the High Court had urged schools and colleges to reopen. The court had asked the petitioners to go back to school without insisting on wearing hijab (or any other religious attire) until the matter reaches its conclusion.
Most schools and colleges in Karnataka reopened on Monday, February 14, 2022. However, police are keeping a strict vigil to prevent any flare-ups. Section 144 has been imposed in various districts in Karnataka including in Udupi, Mangaluru and Shivamogga.
Chief Justice Ritu Raj Awasthi, Justice Krishna S Dixit and Justice JM Khazi are hearing the case, with Advocate Devadatt Kamat arguing for Kundapura students.
Karnataka High Court heard the arguments for Day 4 and here are some excerpts:
KARNATAKA GOVERNMENT ORDER
Advocate Kamat challenged the Karnataka government order that states that prohibiting the hijab is not in violation of Article 25 of the Constitution.
The Karnataka government issued an order based on two other judgments on similar issues – Kerala High Court and Bombay HC verdicts - when the controversy broke out and Muslim girl students insisted on wearing the head scarf to schools and colleges.
The government order placed the deciding power in the College Development Committee (CDC) and based on the two verdicts, stated that wearing hijab wasn't a religious necessity protected under Article 25.
QURAN AND ARTICLE 25
During the hearing on February 14, Advocate Kamat quoted the Quran and Article 25. He also told the bench that the petitioners had been wearing the hijab for the past two years, since admission.
He also stated that the Malaysia apex court views the hijab as essential to Islam. To this High Court asked, “Is Malaysia secular or Islamic? Is there any order from any other court in any country taking a divergent view?”
Advocate Kamat also stated that Kendriya Vidyalayas allow Muslim girls to wear hijab. The petitioners asked Karnataka High Court to allow them to wear the hijab in educational institutions if there is no law and order threat.
Karnataka High Court has not yet pronounced any verdict in the matter. The hearing will continue at 2.30 pm tomorrow, February 15.
On the other hand, there was also a petition seeking restriction on media from reporting the hearing, citing elections in some states. However, the bench said that Karnataka is not going to elections, and without direct orders from the Election Commission, they can’t stop the media from reporting. However, the bench said that it can stop live-streaming of the case if all the stakeholders agreed.
Another advocate complained about the identity of the petitioners being exposed in the media.
Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai is set to meet Education Minister BC Nagesh to discuss the SOP to let schools and colleges function without any religious attire. In the meantime, Bommai urged the citizens to follow Karnataka HC’s directions till a verdict is announced.