Published: 02nd August 2022
Hijab case: Will constitute SC bench soon, says CJI Ramana
The petitions challenge the Karnataka High Court's judgement banning hijabs from educational institutions and were first mentioned in front of the Supreme Court in March
The batch of petitions challenging the Karnataka High Court's decision to ban hijabs in classrooms in the state might be listed for hearing soon in the Supreme Court. Chief Justice NV Ramana, in response to a request from one of the counsels appearing for the petitioners, said that a Bench will soon be constituted to hear the matter.
"I will constitute a Bench. One of the judges is not well," said the CJI, according to a report by IANS. The petitions had been filed in March after the Karnataka High Court finally passed its order in a case that had rocked the state since the beginning of the month.
The controversy started in a government Pre-University College in Udupi, where the College Development Committee allegedly banned Muslim girl students from wearing hijabs inside the campus. A group of Muslim girls from the college protested for days and, as the news spread to other parts of the state, a few more educational institutions banned hijabs on campuses. Taking note of the unrest, the Karnataka government passed an Order that said that students must stick only to the prescribed uniform. The order also mentioned that hijab was not an Essential Religious Practice (ERP) and, therefore, it cannot be protected under the Right to Practice Religion under the Constitution.
These were the matters under consideration by the Karnataka High Court when it began hearing the case in February. Finally, in March, the High Court dismissed the petitions that called for the repeal of the GO and the protection of the right to wear hijab as an ERP. However, the High Court found the GO reasonable and concluded that the hijab was not an ERP and that allowing it would compromise the sanctity and meaning of wearing a uniform in educational institutions.
As a result of the order, hundreds of Muslim girls were restricted from exam halls and classrooms during the exam season commencing March. While some removed their hijab, others refused to do so and were denied entry into educational institutions. The petitioners had, on March 16 and then again on March 24, pleaded with the Supreme Court to consider their matter urgently since they were unable to write examinations. However, at the time, CJI Ramana chided the counsel, and asked him not to "sensationalise the matter". "It has nothing to do with exams," said CJI Ramana.