Can students wear minis, midis to college? SC on Hijab case

Story by  ATV | Posted by  Aasha Khosa • 1 Years ago
Muslim women (representational image)
Muslim women (representational image)


New Delhi

The Supreme Court on Monday asked the counsels of the Muslim girl students from various colleges in Karnataka who have challenged the High Court order that denied them right to wear Hijab in educational institutions whether students can come wearing whatever they choose to in a government institution which has a prescribed uniform.

In the Fathima Bushra vs State of Karnataka case, a SC bench of Justices Hemant Gupta and Sudhanshu Dhulia also remarked that the Karnataka government's order allowing college development committees to prescribe uniform did not seem to violate right to education.

A three-judge Bench of then Chief Justice Ritu Raj Awasthi and Justices Krishna S Dixit and JM Khazi held that the hijab is not a part of essential religious practices of Islam.

"You say educational institution cannot issue a rule but what about the State unless there is a statute which prohibits dress code. So tell me can a student come in minis, midis, whatever they want," Justice Gupta asked during the hearing.

The bench said that while every person has the right to practice religion, the issue is whether the same can be taken inside an education institution which has a prescribed dress code.

"You may have a religious right and can you take that right within an educational institution where an uniform is prescribed. You may be entitled to wear the hijab or scarf, can you carry the right within an educational institution which prescribes uniform. They are not denying right to education what they are saying as State is you come in the uniform," the bench remarked.

The remarks were made after hearing Senior Counsel Sanjay Hegde, who was appearing for one of the appellants in the case.

A three-judge Bench of then Chief Justice Ritu Raj Awasthi and Justices Krishna S Dixit and JM Khazi held that Hijab was not fundamental to Islam.

During the hearing today, Senior Counsel Rajeev Dhavan said that the case raises an important question of whether hijab is "essential" to Islam or not.

"The case delves with a constitutional question which this case has not dealt with earlier. This deals with a significant question if hijab is essential to Islam," he said.

"Can you say that you want to wear a religious thing in a government educational institution? Our constitution says ours is a secular country and can in a secular country you say that a religious clothing has to be worn in a govt run institution.Tthis can be an argument" Justice Hemant Gupta asked.

"When there is a prescribed code then can turban be worn? Look around you milord.. in court 2 there is a picture of judge wearing pagdi," Dhavan responded.

"Pagdi is not religious. My grandfather used to wear it while practicing law. Don't equate it with religion," Justice Gupta replied.

The issue affects education of millions of Muslims girls, Dhavan said.

Dhavan also contended that the whole world was watching the Supreme Court of India and its verdict in this case.

"It was suggested that scarf be of same colour of uniform, Even in this court some women are wearing. Now in schools can they asked be to removed it? What this court will rule the whole world will look at it. Hijab affects women across the country and globe," Dhavan contended.

Dhavan also pointed how there are inconsistent orders on this issue by different High Courts.

"There are two inconsistent High Court orders. One by Kerala High Court and one by Karnataka High Court where one says hijab permitted and one says its not. What the Indian Supreme Court holds in this regard will be very important," he argued.

When Hegde argued that "This is about access to education, the education for which all of us pay taxes,"  Justice Gupta quipped "Sorry only 4 percent pay taxes.”

The hearing in the case will continue on September 7 at 2 pm.

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