Karnataka High Court on Friday reserved its order on various petitions challenging the ban on hijab in education institutions after hearing the matter for 11 days.
The judgment was reserved by a Bench of Chief Justice Ritu Raj Awasthi and Justices Krishna S Dixit and JM Khazi.
Senior Advocate Yusuf Muchchala, appearing for one of the petitioners made rejoinder submission, arguing
– We have only asked that we should be permitted to cover the head with a piece of cloth. It is not right for the college to prevent us from doing that;
– The question of essential religious practice cannot be imported from freedom of conscience,
– Even hadith also says face need not be covered but hijab needs to be worn. This is the admitted position. Government admits this position in its reply;
– Advocate General said that what is stated in the Koran though obligatory, may not be essential. That is contrary to Shayara Bano.
Petitioner-in-person Dr Vinod Kulkarni was next. He submitted:
– It is undoubtedly and vehemently denied that sporting of hijab is not in the Quran;
– It is denied that wearing hijab is against public order, morality and health. Disturbance in social fabric is seen because of the ban;
Banning of hijab in schools and colleges has affected the mental health of Muslim girls, more so girls who wear the hijab;
– Hijab is sported as a cultural practice and custom for 1400 years.
An advocate then mentioned petition seeking a direction to restrict the media from videographing Muslim girl students wearing hijab.
“The media is overtly or covertly doing this. Students are being humiliated and criminalized, their privacy is involved. There are shots of a teacher removing her burkha…there are visuals of girls being chased, when she removes her hijab, the media shoots,” Advocate Balakrishna submitted.
The Bench, however, asked him to file a complaint with the concerned authority, and dismissed the petition.
Advocate Subhash Jha was next to make submissions, in a plea raising “important questions on safety, security, integrity of the nation.” He argued that this issue has been brought before every High Court, and is a “criminal waste of judicial time.” He also sought directions to Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and National Investigation Agency (NIA) to make thorough investigation with regard to massive agitation all over country.
On Thursday, one of the petitioners argued that India is neither a Hindu rashtra nor an Islamic republic but a democratic, sovereign, secular, republic where rule of law must prevail.
Senior Advocate Devadatt Kamat in his rejoinder arguments, said that the State was citing Constitutional Morality to restrict choice, contrary to how the concept was used in pro-choice decisions of the Supreme Court.
During an earlier hearing, the State government had argued that the practice of wearing hijab must pass the test of Constitutional Morality laid down by the Supreme Court in the Sabarimala and Triple Talaq judgments.
The petitioners – Muslim girl students from various colleges in Karnataka – approached the High Court after they were denied permission to attend classes on account of wearing hijab. Among the grounds cited in the petition is that the freedom of conscience and the right to religion are both guaranteed by the Constitution, despite which the students were singled out arbitrarily for belonging to the Islamic faith.
On February 10, the Court had passed an interim order barring students from wearing hijab, saffron shawls (bhagwa) or use any religious flags while attending classes in Karnataka colleges, till the matter is decided.
Most recently, a plea was filed before the High Court against more than 60 media houses seeking directions to restrain them from chasing and videographing students and teachers who are on their way to schools and colleges wearing hijab.
Another plea alleged that the hijab controversy in the State is a creation of “tool kit” which has plans to create disturbance and anarchy and in the country and bring down the government in power at the Centre.