Hijab row: No urgent SC hearing against Karnataka HC verdict
The Supreme Court on Thursday denied a request for an urgent listing of appeals against a Karnataka High Court judgment that upheld colleges' authority to prohibit female Muslim students from wearing hijab in educational institutions in Karnataka. The matter was brought before Chief Justice of India NV Ramana, who asked the petitioners to not sensationalize the issue and refused to set a hearing date.
Why does this story matter?
The hijab ban in educational institutions in Karnataka had earlier sparked an intense nationwide debate. Some claimed that the move was in line with the maintenance of a uniform and that educational institutions are no place to practice religion. However, those criticizing the ban said the hijab is an essential practice and that Muslims were being singled out.
What happened at the Supreme Court today?
Senior Advocate Devadutt Kamat—appearing for the petitioners—had asked the Chief Justice of India (CJI) for an urgent hearing since students' exams were approaching, according to Bar and Bench. "One year will go. They are not being allowed to enter schools," Kamat said. However, the CJI dismissed the request while stating, "This has nothing to do with exams. Don't sensationalize the issue."
What does the petition say?
Six Muslim girls had filed a Special Leave Petition with the Supreme Court on March 15, alleging that the HC "failed to note that the right to wear a hijab falls under the ambit of 'expression' and is thus protected under Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution." It stated that the right to wear hijab is also protected under the newly evolved right to privacy.
'HC erred in separating freedom of religion and conscience'
The petition also claimed that the Supreme Court "erred in creating a dichotomy of freedom of religion and freedom of conscience," implying that those who practice religion do not have the right to conscience.
What was the Karnataka High Court judgment?
After nearly two weeks of deliberation, the Karnataka HC had stated that "(school/college) uniform is a legitimate regulation imposed by the educational institution." It also said that "wearing hijab does not form essential religious practice in Islam." The judgment mentioned that the government possessed the authority to issue such a dress code order, noting that "no case has been made out for its invalidation."