The wearing of a hijab may not be an essential religious practice, and the question is whether any religious right can be carried to an educational institution where a uniform is legally imposed by a secular State, the Supreme Court noticed on Monday.
The wearing of a hijab may not be an essential religious practice, and the question is whether any religious right can be carried to an educational institution where a uniform is legally imposed by a secular State, the Supreme Court noticed on Monday as it began hearings in the Karnataka hijab ban cases.
Where is the religious practice here?
Hijab may not be a religious practice in the strictest sense. There may be a religious component, but this cannot be included in the scope of the reference. You may have a civil right to practice, but can you do so in schools where there is a dress code? We realize that you have the right to wear a hijab or a head scarf, but can you wear your hijab to a school that requires a uniform?” questioned the judges Hemant Gupta and Sudhanshu Dhulia.
The scope of judicial review in matters involving religious practices is currently being debated before a nine-judge panel in the aftermath of a slew of religious practices being challenged before the Supreme Court. Some petitioners have argued that the hijab controversy should also be referred to the nine-judge bench because it involves an essential religious practice and that the issue of the interplay between constitutional rights and public interest must be addressed by the larger bench.
The right to a particular practise in a government institution will be one of the fundamental concerns in the cases being examined, the bench remarked on Monday, adding that wearing a hijab may or may not be a necessary practise.
During the two-hour hearing, the Supreme Court also expressed a preliminary view that the Karnataka government did have the authority to impose uniforms for academics under its executive powers, despite the state’s claim that no order forbidding the hijab had been issued.
According to the Karnataka government, the February notification was an “innocuous” order that directed recognized educational institutions to prescribe uniforms, after which some colleges, including the PU College in Udupi, which came out to be the epicenter of the main protests, looked to wear the hijab, chose to prohibit it.
Some institutions have made the decision to forbid the wearing of the hijab. The authority didn’t say, “You wear a hijab, or you don’t.” We left it to the academics, and their orders have not been dare in court,” the state’s Advocate General Prabhuling K Navadgi stated.
By asking the bench, whether the state wanted the hijab to be banned, Navadagi responded that the state had left it up to college development committees to decide. “There is no state prohibition. It is up to the college development committees to make a decision. Some institutions outright banned it, while else chose to say nothing. There must be some institutions run by Islamic groups that still allow hijab said the advocate general.
The court heard preliminary submissions from both sides on Monday on a slew of 23 petitions challenging the Karnataka high court’s March 15 ruling that wearing hijab by Muslim women is not necessarily devout in Islam and that the state government is authorized to prescribe uniforms in its educational institutions. The petitioners include female students, women’s rights organizations, lawyers, activists, and Islamic organizations.
While the Karnataka government was represented by Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, Additional Solicitor General KM Nataraj, and Nevada, the petitioners were represented by senior advocates Rajeev Dhavan, Yusuf Muchhala, Dushyant Dave, Sanjay Hegde, and Devadatta Kamat.
Earlier in the day, the court denied Dave’s request to adjourn the hearing, citing the need for lengthy arguments. The court scheduled the hearing after 2 p.m. and heard it until around 4 p.m.
The unheard claims of Hedge
Hegde began his arguments before the court by claiming that the state government lacked the authority to advice the uniforms or direct firms to do so. He put on that even if the state was found to be authorized to do so, wearing the hijab was simply an addition to the uniform, and young women could not be denied their right to education solely on this basis.
The law court, though, informed Hegde that the state’s disagreement is not based on denial of education. “They are not saying, ‘We deny them the right to an education.’ They are saying, “You come in the prescribed uniform…and we don’t think you can question their power to prescribe uniform.” “The state has so many authorities,” it said.
The bench responded, “You say educational institutions cannot issue rules, but what about the state except there is an idol which forbids dress code,” in response to Hegde’s argument that the Karnataka Education Act did not permit the state government to choose uniforms.” So, can a student comes in mini skirts, midis, or whatever dress codes they want? Unless a statute states otherwise, the executive power of the state will always be invoked.”
As Hegde finished his arguments, the bench adjourned the case until September 7 at 2 p.m. to continue the hearing.
Last week, the bench chastised the suitor for finding an adjournment in the case, noting that the appeal appeared to be a ruse for “forum shopping” or attempting to take the matter to a different bench and a different combination of judges.
On 15 th March of this year, the Karnataka high court ruled that wearing a hijab is not mandatory in Islam. It upheld the state government’s ban on headscarves in schools and colleges via a February 5 executive order, sparking massive protests and counter-protests across the state and in several other cities across the country.
The high court’s bench consisting of three judges, led by Chief Justice Ritu Raj Awasthi, spoked that the Quran doesn’t tell Muslim women to put on a hijab and that the clothing is “not a religious end in itself,” but rather “at best the means to get access to different public places” and a “index of social security.”
Decreasing a slew of petitions filed by some female students demanding that the wearing of a hijab be recognized as a religious right under the constitution, the high court also demanded a “rapid and effective” investigation into the stoking of the Karnataka hijab controversy, suspecting “unseen hands at work to engineering social unrest and disharmony in the state.”
The high court also sustains the state government’s dominion to advise the uniforms in educational institutions under the Karnataka Education Act, declaring that “adherence to dress code is mandatory for students.”
edited and proofread by nikita sharma