Published: 13th October 2022
Hijab case: Supreme Court to deliver judgement today, October 13. This is what has happened so far
The counsel appearing for the state had argued that the Karnataka government order that kicked up a row over hijab was "religion neutral"
The Supreme Court is scheduled to pronounce its verdict today, October 13 on a batch of petitions challenging the Karnataka High Court judgement upholding the ban on hijab in educational institutions of the state.
According to the apex court's cause list, a bench of Justices Hemant Gupta and Sudhanshu Dhulia will deliver the judgement in the matter on Thursday, as stated in a report by PTI.
The Supreme Court on September 22, concluded the hearing of the Hijab case and reserved the judgment after ten days of hearing. The top court was hearing 23 pleas challenging the Karnataka High Court’s verdict upholding the ban on wearing hijab in educational institutes.
On March 15, the high court had dismissed the petitions filed by a section of Muslim students of the Government Pre-University Girls College in Karnataka's Udupi seeking permission to wear the hijab inside classrooms, ruling that it is not a part of the essential religious practice in the Islamic faith.
Petitioner’s arguments so far
During the arguments in the apex court, a number of counsel appearing for the petitioners had insisted that preventing Muslim girls from wearing the hijab to the classroom will put their education in jeopardy as they might stop attending classes.
Counsel for the petitioners had argued on various aspects, including on the state government's February 5, 2022 order which banned wearing clothes that disturb equality, integrity and public order in schools and colleges.
During one of the hearings, senior advocate Dushyant Dave, appearing for some of the petitioners, asked why the state government came out with such a prohibition 75 years after Independence. "What was the need? There is nothing brought on record to show that the circular was supported by any just reason or any justification. It came like a bolt from the blue," he said, as per PTI.
"So, suddenly you decide that you will have this kind of a ban. Why I say so — a series of actions in Karnataka targeted minority community in last few years," Dave contended.
Some advocates had also argued that the matter be referred to a five-judge constitution bench.
State’s arguments so far
On the other hand, the counsel appearing for the state had argued that the Karnataka government order that kicked up a row over hijab was "religion neutral".
Insisting that the agitation in support of wearing hijab in educational institutions was not a "spontaneous act" by a few individuals, the state's counsel had argued in the apex court that the government would have been "guilty of dereliction of constitutional duty" if it had not acted the way it did.
The state government also clarified that there does not exist a ban on the hijab even beyond the classroom on the campuses.
The Additional Solicitor General (ASG) KM Nataraj who referred to a previous verdict delivered by the Apex Court, argued that every activity related to religion cannot necessarily be called an essential religious practice. "Today, we have a large number of sisters and mothers belonging to the Islamic faith who do not wear hijab, who as a matter of their choice do not wear hijab. We have countries like France which have prohibited wearing of hijab," he said, as per PTI.
"But in both these situations, when a woman does not wear hijab, she does not become any less Islamic," Karnataka's Advocate General (AG) Prabhuling K Navadgi said further, adding that Islam continues to flourish in countries which have banned the hijab.
The state government's order of February 5, 2022 was challenged by some Muslim girls in the high court.
Several pleas have been filed in the apex court challenging the high court verdict.