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Current Affairs

Court rulings on hijab

Date: 12 February 2022 Tags: Constitution

Issue

Petitions challenging government order banning the hijab in government educational institutions have been heard in the Karnataka High Court.

 

Background

The issue started after several students wore saffron garment as a sign of protests against wearing of hijabs in classrooms.

 

Details

  • The High Court has instructed that no religious attire be allowed on campus until the court reaches a verdict. 

  • Petitioners argue that earlier judgments cannot be applied to Karnataka case as circumstances and conditions are different.

 

The order of government

  • Using its powers under Section 133(2) of the Karnataka Education Act, 1983, the Karnataka government passed an order to make uniforms compulsory for education institutions.

  • The directive specifies that a headscarf is not part of the uniform and students are not allowed to sport it in educational institutions.

  • The order states that wearing headscarves is not an essential religious practice for Muslims and need not be protected under the Constitution.

  • Three different High Court judgments are cited that says banning headscarf does not violate fundamental rights, particularly freedom of religion.

 

Grounds for challenge

  • Wearing a hijab is an expression of religion and protected under Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution.

  • These can be restricted only on the grounds of sovereignty and integrity of India, friendly relations with foreign states, decency or morality or in relation to contempt of courts and public order.

  • Petitioners further argue that wearing a hijab/headscarf and attending class cannot be said as a practice that disturbs “public order”.

  • The ban on hijab violates fundamental rights to equality since other religious markers are not explicitly prohibited. 

 

Religious freedom

  • Freedom of conscience and the right freely to profess, practice and propagate religion is granted under Article 25(1) of the constitution.

  • However, the state has powers to restrict the right on grounds of public order, decency, morality, health and other state interests.