The Supreme Court on Wednesday, July 13, agreed to hear next week a batch of pleas challenging the Karnataka High Court verdict refusing to lift the ban on hijab in educational institutions of the state. A bench comprising Chief Justice NV Ramana and Justices Krishna Murari and Hima Kohli took note of the submissions made by lawyer Prashant Bhushan that the matters were filed long ago, but were yet to be listed for hearing.
The girls are losing out on studies, Bhushan said. The bench said, “It will be listed sometime next week,” adding that they will be listed before the appropriate bench.
The batch of pleas against the Karnataka High Court’s verdict in the hijab case had been filed before the Supreme Court in March, shortly after the High Court delivered its verdict. A three-judge Karnataka High Court bench had on March 15 dismissed a batch of pleas by students against the ban on wearing the hijab (headscarf) in classrooms. The High Court had held that the hijab is not an essential practice under Islam and that uniforms are a reasonable restriction to fundamental rights. The court had added that educational institutions have a right to prescribe dress codes and the students must adhere to the same.
After the High Court’s verdict, a Muslim student filed a special leave petition in the Supreme Court against the High Court’s order, after which more appeals were filed in the apex court. The pleas said that the Karnataka High Court had “vehemently failed to apply its mind” and “was unable to understand the gravity of the situation,” and that the High Court has “failed to note” that the right to wear a hijab comes under the ambit of the right to privacy, under Article 21 of the Constitution of India.”
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The state government had banned hijabs or headscarves in classrooms in educational institutions in Karnataka. After protests and counter protests over the issue, some colleges also banned the hijab from campus. Many hijab-wearing students were denied entry into the classrooms. Later, it was reported that many Muslim students either dropped out or sought transfer certificates from their colleges.