Hijab Row: Supreme Court To Deliver Judgement On Petitions Challenging Karnataka HC Verdict Upholding Right Of Educational Institutions To Prescribe Uniforms
The Supreme Court today (Oct 13) will deliver its judgement on a batch of petitions challenging the Karnataka High Court verdict upholding the right of educational institutions to prescribe wearing of uniforms in schools and pre-university colleges under provisions of the Karnataka Education Act, 1983.
A bench of Justices Hemant Gupta and Sudhanshu Dhulia had on September 22 reserved its judgement after hearing arguments for 10 days in the matter.
On March 15, the Karnataka high court ruled that prescription of school uniform does not violate either the right to freedom of speech and expression under Article 19(1) (a) or the right to privacy under Article 21 of the Constitution, and the restriction against wearing of hijab in educational institutions is only a reasonable restriction constitutionally permissible, which the students cannot object to.
The courts also ruled that wearing of hijab by Muslim women does not constitute an essential religious practice in Islamic faith and it is not protected under the right to freedom of religion guaranteed under Article 25 of the Constitution of India.
The judgment was delivered by a three-judge bench comprising Chief Justice Ritu Raj Awasthi, Justice Krishna S. Dixit and Justice J.M. Khazi while rejecting all the petitions filed by nine Muslim girl students studying in two government pre-university colleges in Udupi district.
Appealing against HC verdict, the Muslim students approached the SC saying the “right to wear hijab comes under the ambit of ‘expression’ and is thus protected under Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution”. The petitioners argued before the SC that HC should not have applied the ‘Essential Religious Practices Test’.
The Karnataka government was represented by Solicitor General Tushar Mehta and Advocate General Prabhuling K Navadgi.
The state government, for its part, argued that till 2021, no student was wearing hijab but a movement was launched by the now-banned Islamist outfit PFI on social media with a design to create social unrest, forcing it to intervene into the matter by issuing the order.
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