Monday, April 22, 2024

Hijab is not essential to Islam, rules Karnataka High Court

A hijab is not an essential religious practice, the Karnataka High Court said today in a huge setback to students who had challenged a ban on wearing the hijab in class. Five petitions had challenged the ban in court. 

Ahead of the order, the state government banned large gatherings for a week in state capital Bengaluru “to maintain public peace and order”. Mangalore too banned large gatherings from March 15 to 19. Schools and colleges are closed in Udupi today. 

The Karnataka High Court had temporarily banned religious clothes, including Hijab and saffron scarves, last month as the controversy snowballed into protests and a face-off between different sections of students.

The petitioners, including a dozen Muslim students, told the court that wearing the hijab was a fundamental right guaranteed under India’s constitution and essential practice of Islam. After eleven days of the hearing, the High Court had reserved its judgment on February 25. 

Teachers along with students have been stopped from entering schools and colleges for wearing the hijab in many parts of the state since then.

Videos of students and teachers removing the Hijab in public to be allowed inside educational institutions had triggered a massive outcry. The High Court had then clarified that the temporary ban applied only to students and not teachers. 

The controversy over the hijab erupted in Karnataka late last year as students at a school in Udupi alleged that they were stopped from entering class wearing headscarves.

On February 5, Karnataka banned “clothes that were against law and order” and on February 10 the High Court temporarily banned all religious outfits as it heard petitions challenging the restrictions.

(More to follow...)

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