BENGALERU: On Wednesday, the Karnataka High Court will resume hearing on petitions challenging the ban on the wearing of hijab in public schools and colleges. The full bench of Chief Justice Ritu Raj Awasthi, Justice JM Khazi and Justice Krishna M Dixit is hearing a batch of petitions asking for permission to wear a hijab inside the classroom.
During Tuesday’s hearing, the Karnataka government told the High Court that there were no restrictions on wearing the hijab in India with reasonable restrictions subject to institutional discipline and dismissed the charge that refusing to wear the headscarf was a violation of Article 15 of the Constitution, which prohibits any form of discrimination.
Against Udupi District Muslim Girls Petitioner who challenged the restriction of hijab inside educational institutions, Karnataka Attorney General Prabhuling Navadgi said that the right to wear headscarves is a matter of category 19(1)(A) and not section 25 as was the case. was supported by the petitioners.
“The right to wear the hijab falls under Article 19(1)(A) and not Article 25. If one wishes to wear the hijab, then there is no restriction ‘subject to the discipline.’ The rights asserted under Article 19(1)(A) are linked to Article 19(2) where the government imposes a reasonable restriction subject to an institutional restriction,” Navadgi told the set of judges of the High Court of Karnataka.
Navadgi further stated that the institutional restriction in the present case is only inside educational institutions and nowhere else. Arguing further, he stated that the independent claim of 19(1)(A) cannot go hand in hand with Article 25.
“The consequence of asking to declare Hijab as an essential religious practice is huge because there is an element of coercion, otherwise you will be expelled from the community,” Navadgi told the court. Article 19(1)(A) is related to the freedom of expression of the Indian constitution.
Giving clear indications of an early verdict in the hijab row, the Special Bench of the High Court of Karnataka, constituted to consider petitions submitted by students demanding their right to wear hijab in classrooms, ordered on Tuesday lawyers to complete their arguments by this week. Chief Justice (CJ) Ritu Raj Awasthi has asked Attorney General (AG) Prabhuling Navadgi, who represents the government, to complete his submissions at the earliest.
Chief Justice Awasthi informed all the attorneys that the bench wanted to finish hearing the case this weekend and ordered them to keep the arguments brief. “Make positive efforts to complete this week only,” he said.
AG Navadgi stated that it is entirely up to the claimant to prove that the practice of hijab is obligatory in nature and compulsorily followed in Islam. They have placed 144 suras of the Quran, this court asked them in this regard. There is no record on the table to show that the custom is obligatory and it is an element of compulsion which compels a member to be even expelled from the community.
The wearing of dress is a freedom of expression, as the petitioners argue as their basic right under s. 19(1)(a). However, Section 19(1)(a) is subject to public order, good morals under Section 19(2). In this case, the uniform rule is subject to institutional restriction and it is subject to institutional discipline not only in schools but also in hospitals, military establishments and the like, the AG told the court.
Meanwhile, Karnataka Police have arrested three people in connection with the attack on one of the petitioners in the Hijab case in the Karnataka High Court. Hazra Shifa had alleged that a mob attacked his brother and “our property was destroyed”, following which three people were arrested.
“Three people have been taken into custody in connection with the assault and the targeting of the restaurant,” police sources said.