Published: 14th February 2022
#HijabRow: Karnataka HC adjourns hearing for tomorrow, HC says GO doesn't refer to public order
The court will continue hearing representations from a batch of petitions challenging the refusal of educational institutions in the state to admit students wearing a hijab
The hearing in the case of the petitioners against the ban on hijab in educational institutions in Karnataka in the state's High Court has been adjourned for the day. The full-judge bench consisting of Chief Justice of the HC, Ritu Raj Awasthi, and Justices Krishna S Dixit and Justice JM Khazi, will continue hearing the case tomorrow, which is on February 15 from 2.30 pm.
Senior Advocate Devadutt Kamat, appearing on behalf of the petitioners spoke in court today, and primarily focussed on explaining why the Government Order passed by the government of Karnataka is a "total non-application of the mind." Kamat quoted verses from the Quran in an attempt to explain how wearing the hijab is an essential religious practice under the Islamic law, and thus garners protection under Article 25 of the constitution, which guarantees citizens the freedom of conscience, along with the freedom to profess, practice and propagate religion.
Advocate Kamat also said that the wearing of a hijab is an innocuous practice that does not harm public order, as stated by the GO. The justices then went on to question whether the GO, which was released in Kannada, does mention public order at all. Judge Dixit, who read the original order, reached the conclusion that it does not mention public order, and that Kamat's translation was erroneous.
The advocate also brought to the notice of the bench that the students had been wearing their headscarves since the beginning of their admission into the Pre-University College. Additionally, Kamat said that the GO's granting of discretion to the College Development Committees to decide whether the hijab violated their uniform was a "complete abdication of responsibility by the government," as they had made an extra-statutory authority the keeper of rights under Article 25.
The High Court is hearing a batch of petitions filed by Muslim students who claim that by denying entry into educational institutions for wearing the hijab, the institutions are violating their fundamental rights under Articles 14, 19(1)(a), 21, 25 and 29. Tomorrow, the court will continue to hear from advocates representing these students.
The case was transferred from a single-judge bench to the full judge bench, whose first hearing was on February 10. There, the court had ordered the reopening of educational institutions, which had been shut by the government after reports of violence in some areas during protests by Muslim students, and the opposing Hindu students sporting saffron shawls. In its interim order, the court had prohibited students from wearing any item of religious clothing, including hijabs or saffron shawls to educational institutions as long as the case is being heard.
Following that order, the Karnataka government has reopened all educational institutions from Class VIII and above from today. However, section 144 has been imposed around high schools as the situation remains tense.