A full bench of the Karnataka High Court Tuesday dismissed a batch of petitions filed by Muslims girls from pre university (PU) colleges in the Udupi region of the state seeking the right to wear hijabs or head scarves along with uniforms inside classrooms.

“We are of the considered opinion that wearing of the hijab by Muslim women does not make up an essential religious practice in Islamic faith,” the full bench said in the gist of its order that was read out by the Karnataka chief justice Ritu Raj Awasthi Tuesday morning.

The Karnataka High Court on Tuesday upheld the government order (GO) effectively banning the wearing of hijab (headscarves) by Muslim girl students in educational institutions in the State (Smt Resham v. State of Karnataka).

The High Court in its order also upheld a February 5 government order which suggested that the wearing of hijabs can be restricted in colleges where uniforms are prescribed.

Karnataka Hijab Row: Get your hands off women

It added, “The second question is whether the prescription of school uniform is not legally permissible as being violative of the petitioners fundamental rights guaranteed under article 19 1 a of the constitution that is freedom of expression and article 21 that is privacy. The third question is whether the government order dated February 5, 2022 apart from being incompetent is issued without application of mind and further whether it is arbitrary and therefore violates article 14 and 15 of the Constitution.”

“The last question is whether any case is made out in a petition for ordering an inquiry against respondents 6 to 14 and for issuance of a writ of quo warranto against the respondents 15 and 16,” the High Court said.

While stating that “wearing of the hijab by Muslim women does not make up an essential religious practice in Islamic faith”, that “prescription of a school uniform is a reasonable restriction constitutionally permissible which the students cannot object to”, that “the government has the power to issue the impugned government order dated February 5, 2022 and no case is made out for its invalidation”, the court also rejected the plea for action against college authorities for restricting students from entering their colleges wearing hijabs.

“The answer to the fourth question is no case is made out in writ petition 2146/2022 for issuance of a direction for initiating disciplinary action against respondents six to 14 and for issuance of writ or quo warranto against respondents 15 and 16. They are rejected as being not maintainable,” the bench said.

“Accordingly in the above circumstances all these writ petitions being devoid of merit are dismissed,” the court concluded.

Karnataka CM Basavaraj Bommai also commented on the HC verdict- “Everyone should follow court order for benefit of children. It is a question of fate & education of our children. Necessary arrangements have been made to maintain law and order”


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February 2024


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