Karnataka High Court heard the Hijab row on five petitions filed by girls studying at Government Pre-university College in Udupi. “For me, Constitution is Bhagvad Gita. We have to act according to the Constitution. I have come to this position after taking an oath on the Constitution. The emotions on the issue should be set aside. Wearing a hijab should not become an emotional issue,” said Justice Krishna Dixit.
It also observed that the government has to answer many questions on the issue.
“I am getting messages from innumerable numbers. The whole WhatsApp chat is filled with this discussion. The institutions can only work as per the constitution. The government can give orders, but people can question them,” said Justice Dixit.
“The government can’t come to decisions on surmises,” the bench stated.
“The government can’t give a ruling against the Quran. Wearing a dress of the choice is a fundamental right. Wearing a hijab is a fundamental right, however, the government can restrict fundamental rights. There is no clear order on uniforms from the government. Wearing a hijab is a matter of privacy. The government order in this regard violates the boundaries of privacy,” the bench noted.
The bench said that since the government is not agreeing to the petitioner’s request of allowing students to wear hijab for two months, it will take up the case on the basis of merit. “There are protests and students are on roads, I am observing all developments in this regard,” the judge noted.
The bench also asked the petitioner which page of the Quran says that hijab is mandatory. The judge also asked for a copy of the Quran from the court’s library. It also asked the petitioner to read out from the holy book to understand where it has been stated so.
The bench also asked if all traditions are fundamental practices and what is their jurisdiction.
The bench also asked whether they will have to be practised at all places. It questioned the government at one point that why can’t they allow hijab for two months and what is the problem?
Meanwhile, the counsel for the petitioner submitted that the government can only interfere in matters which are not fundamental, according to religion. The government cannot interfere with things that are fundamental.
The petitioner submitted that “The government should show large-heartedness in the matter. The matter can’t be decided on the premises of secularism. The government should permit the wearing of hijab in the colour of the uniforms. The permission has to be given until examinations are over. Then, they can take a decision on the matter.”
The issue started in Udipi when six Muslim students were stopped from sitting in the classroom as they were wearing hijab in PU College. The girls then filed a petition in the Karnataka High Court. The girls argued that not allowing them to wear the hijab is a violation of their fundamental rights under Articles 14 and 25 of the Constitution.
The matter is spreading all over the state as many Hindu youngsters, backed by right-wing, wear saffron headscarves.
Earlier when a Muslim girl arrived at PES College, Karnataka was surrounded by some students with saffron flags who started chanting Jai Shriram. The young lady also chanted slogans of Allah Hu Akbar.
Twenty-eight Muslim students of Kundapura college in Karnataka were prevented from attending classes wearing hijab. Boys from Hindu organizations wore saffron shawls on the college campus. While Shri Ram Sena in Hubli said that those who have demanded to wear burqa or hijab, can go to Pakistan.
Two colleges in Vijayapura, Karnataka, Shanteshwara UP and GRB College have given two days off to students. While students with hijab are allowed to come to Udipi College, a rule has also been applied that they will sit in a separate class. The students protested from the beginning of college till the end of the class.
The ruling BJP stood in support of uniform-related rules being enforced by educational institutions while the opposition Congress alleged the hijab controversy is part of a conspiracy to poison the minds of the young people.
On the other hand, Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai on Tuesday said that all high schools and colleges in the state will remain shut for the next three days amid an ongoing row over hijab.
“I appeal to all the students, teachers and management of schools and colleges as well as people of Karnataka to maintain peace and harmony. I have ordered the closure of all high schools and colleges for the next three days. All concerned are requested to cooperate,” Bommai said.
Earlier, Bommai told the schoolgirls to abide by the state government’s rules regarding school uniforms till the High Court gives its verdict in this regard. He said that the reason for making rules about uniforms in school colleges is that every student feels the same. These rules are also mentioned in the constitution and must be followed. He said that these rules have also been written in the Karnataka Education Act. A notification has also been issued in this regard.
There was a controversy in the school about the hijab even about three years ago. It was then decided that no one would come wearing hijab, but for the last few days, some students started coming to school wearing hijab. While some wore saffron to protest.
Also read: High Schools, Colleges, To Remain Closed In Karnataka for 3 Days Following Communal Tension
Hijab is an Islamic concept of modesty and privacy, most notably expressed in women’s clothing that covers most of the body. It is often a personal and cultural concept, not a religious one. The Qur’an instructs both Muslim men and women to dress in a modest way, yet there is disagreement on how these instructions should be followed. The clearest verse on the requirement of modest dress is Surah 24:31, telling women to guard their genitalia and draw their khimār over their bosoms. For Islamic women who choose to wear the hijab it allows them to retain their modesty, morals and freedom of choice. They choose to cover because they believe it is liberating and allows them to avoid harassment.