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Karnataka Hijab row: SC to constitute bench after Holi break

On Shariat Committee advocate’s insistence for an urgent hearing citing the exams starting from March 9, the apex court said they had come on the last day.

Statesman News Service | New Delhi |

The Supreme Court on Friday said it will constitute a bench after a weeklong Holi break to hear a plea seeking to allow Muslim female students to appear in pre-university college examinations in Karnataka wearing Hijab.

Following a mention by the Shariat Committee, seeking direction to permit Muslim female students to appear in exams wearing Hijab, Chief Justice D Y Chandrachud heading a bench said that it will constitute a bench to hear the matter related to Hijab issue.

The chief justice said the matter will be listed immediately after the Holi break.

Insisting on urgent hearing, the Shariat Committee advocate told the court that the exams are starting from March 9. However, the court said that they had come on the last day. The petitioner apprised the court that they had mentioned it earlier too. The court said that it will list it.

Chief Justice Chandrachud said that the application to permit Muslim female students to go to the examination centres wearing Hijab will be heard after Holi break. The advocate pointed out that the “Hijab wearing students have already lost a year because of the ban. What about this academic year? Should they lose this also?”

Chief Justice Chandrachud said, “I can’t answer your questions. A bench will be constituted after the Holi break.”

Earlier, an application was filed seeking to allow girl students to appear in examinations in colleges in Karnataka wearing headscarf. Exams are starting from March 9, 2023.

On October 13, 2022, the bench of the top court gave a split verdict on a batch of petitions that had challenged the Karnataka High Court judgment upholding State government’s ban on Muslim girls wearing Hijab in the government schools and educational institutions.

While Justice Hemant Gupta (since retired) had dismissed the appeals against the High Court judgment, Justice Sudhanshu Dhulia allowed the appeals.

After delivering a split verdict, the bench referred the matter to the Chief Justice of India to constitute an appropriate bench to adjudicate the issue.

On January 23, 2023, the Supreme Court had agreed to constitute a three-judge bench to consider petitions challenging ban on hijab in classrooms/premises of government educational institutions.