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Hijab ban: SC to consider listing of appeals against Karnataka HC order post-Holi break

A bench of Chief Justice of India NV Ramana and Justices AS Bopanna and Hima Kohli said it will consider listing the pleas after Holi vacation after senior advocate Sanjay Hegde, appearing for petitioners, sought an urgent hearing.

ANI | New Delhi |

The Supreme Court on Wednesday said it would list for hearing after Holi break appeals challenging Karnataka High Court’s order that dismissed petitions against the ban on Hijab in educational institutions.

A bench of Chief Justice of India NV Ramana and Justices AS Bopanna and Hima Kohli said it will consider listing the pleas after Holi vacation after senior advocate Sanjay Hegde, appearing for petitioners, sought an urgent hearing.

“The urgency is this that there are several girls who have to attend colleges. List this on Monday,” Hegde said.

To this, the CJI said, “Others have mentioned too. We will see, we will post the matter. Let us see we will post the matter after Holi vacations.”

Some of the petitioners before the High Court have approached the apex court challenging the order upholding the Karnataka government’s order which directs strict enforcement of schools and colleges uniform rules.

One of the appeals in the top court has alleged “step-motherly behaviour of government authorities which has prevented students from practicing their faith and resulted in an unwanted law and order situation”.

The appeal said the High Court in its impugned order “had vehemently failed to apply its mind and was unable to understand the gravity of the situation as well as the core aspect of the Essential Religious Practices enshrined under Article 25 of the Constitution of India”.

“Wearing of Hijab or headscarf is a practice that is essential to the practice of Islam,” it added.

A bench of Karnataka High Court comprising Chief Justice Ritu Raj Awasthi, Justice Krishna S Dixit, and Justice JM Khazi on Tuesday held that the prescription of uniform is a reasonable restriction that students could not object to and dismissed various petitions challenging a ban on Hijab in education institutions saying they are without merit.

The Hijab row had erupted in January this year when the Government PU College in Udupi allegedly barred six girls wearing the hijab from entering. Following this, the girls sat in protest outside college over being denied entry.

After this, boys of several colleges in Udupi started attending classes wearing saffron scarves. This protest spread to other parts of the state as well leading to protests and agitations in several places in Karnataka.

As a result, the Karnataka government said that all students must adhere to the uniform and banned both hijab and saffron scarves till an expert committee decided on the issue.

On February 5, the pre-University education board released a circular stating that the students could only wear the uniform approved by the school administration and no other religious attire would be allowed in colleges.

The order stated that in case a uniform is not prescribed by management committees, then students should wear dresses that go well with the idea of equality and unity, and do not disturb the social order.

A batch of petitions was filed against the government’s rule in the Karnataka High Court by some girls seeking permission to wear the hijab in educational institutions.

On February 10, the High Court had issued an interim order stating that students should not wear any religious attire to classes till the court issued the final order. The hearings related to the Hijab case were concluded on February 25 and the court had reserved its judgement.