News Brief

Now, Muslim Women Petition High Court To Allow Full-Body Veil Inside Classrooms

Swati Goel Sharma

Jun 17, 2024, 06:45 PM | Updated 10:30 PM IST

Representative image.
Representative image.
  • Naqab is an integral part of Muslim religion, the students have stated in their plea.
  • A group of Muslim women students of a private degree college in Mumbai have petitioned the Bombay High Court seeking nullification of an order by the college management prohibiting full-body veil inside classrooms.

    Naqab is an integral part of Muslim religion, the students have stated in their plea.

    The college, NG Acharya and DK Marathe College of Arts, Science and Commerce, is located in Mumbai’s northeastern Chembur area.

    The management passed the order at the beginning of May for the 2024-25 academic session that began in June. It was circulated among students through online messaging apps.

    The order said, “You shall follow the dress code of college of formal and decent dress which shall not reveal anyone’s religion such as no burqa, no nakab, no hijab, no cap, no badge, no stole etc. Only full of half shirt and normal trousers for boys and any Indian/western non-revealing dress for girls on the college campus. Changing room available for girls.”

    The order followed several months of stand-off between students refusing to remove the veil inside classrooms and the management insisting that veil be removed at the college entrance.

    The management has dedicated a room near the entrance for removing the veil.

    As per reports, the nine petitioners are second- and third-year undergraduate students.

    After learning of the order, they approached the management asking them to withdraw the restriction on naqab, burqa and hijab mentioned in it.

    It is pertinent to mention that while hijab usually refers to a scarf covering hair and neck, naqab and burqa are full-body veils covering even the eyes.

    The students approached the court after the college management refused to take back the order.

    Their petition says that the order is “nothing but colourable excuse of power” and “arbitrary, unreasonable, bad-in-law, perverse, null and void”.

    “That the Naqab and Hijab are integral part of Petitioners' religious belief. That apart, it is the free will and choice and right to privacy of the Petitioners to continue wearing Naqab and Hijab in the classroom of Senior College,” their petition, filed through advocate Altaf Khan, says.

    As per reports, the matter is likely to be heard by a division bench of justices A S Chandurkar and Rajesh Patil on 18 June.

    Matter Follows Karnataka Hijab Court Case

    Since December 2021, controversy over Muslim women students insisting on wearing veil over school uniforms has erupted in various parts of the country beginning from Karnataka.

    In Karnataka, students from three separate educational institutes petitioned the Karnataka High Court in January 2022, seeking directions to the institutes to allow veil inside classrooms. The veil, in those petitions, were called "hijab" and described as a scarf covering head, hair and neck.

    The Karnataka High Court dismissed the demands by holding that wearing headscarf in not an essential religious practice in Islam.

    The petitioners appealed against the High Court verdict in Supreme Court. In August 2022, a two-judge bench of the apex court gave a split verdict, which meant that the case would be heard by a larger bench of the Supreme Court. Constitution of such a bench is pending. 

    This correspondent, who extensively covered the Karnataka hijab petitions, raised concerns that the demand for headscarf might turn into a demand for full-body veils in near future.

    Also Read — Why Are ’Headscarf’ Protesters Wearing Full-Body Veils?

    Swati Goel Sharma is a senior editor at Swarajya. She tweets at @swati_gs.

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