Amid the hijab row in Karnataka, the state High Court on Tuesday, 8 February, continued hearing the petitions filed by Muslim students over their right to wear the headscarf in classrooms.
"Having heard counsel for the parties and pending further hearing of matter, this court requests the student community and the public at large to maintain peace and tranquility [sic]," the bench, comprising Justice Krishna Dixit, said.
"We will go by reason, by law, not by passion or emotions. We will go by what Constitution says. Constitution is the Bhagavad Gita for me [sic]," the court had said earlier in the day.
"People should have faith in Constitution. Only a mischievous section will keep the issue burning. But making agitation, going on the street, shouting slogans, attacking students, students attacking others, there are not good things [sic]."Karnataka High Court
The hearing is slated to continue at 2:30 pm on Wednesday.
The Karnataka High Court is hearing the petitions filed by a number of Muslim students on the hijab row. The students have sought the court's directions to the government and the education department not to interfere with their religious and fundamental rights.
The students have also explained in their petition that they wear the hijab along with their school uniform.
WHAT WERE THE PETITIONERS' CONTENTIONS?
Arguing that the right to wear hijab is an essential religious practice under Islam, and that the state is not empowered to interfere with such rights under Articles 14, 19, and 25 of the Constitution, senior advocate Debdatt Kamat said:
"A girl going to school wearing head scarf, how can it be a public issue order? [sic]"
Further, the senior advocate pointed out that the right to wear a dress was a facet of the fundamental right to speech and expression (under Article 19 (1)(a) of the Constitution of India, and thus, the threshold of "public order" was extremely high to curb this right.
He also reportedly informed the court that even as hijab-wearing Muslim girls were allowed to enter school premises on Monday, they were made to sit in a separate hall.
"It is my submission that such segregation offends Article 14 (of the Constitution," he said.
"Making hijab-wearing students sit separately is a form of 'religious apartheid' and untouchability is not fully abolished."Senior Advocate Debdatt Kamat
WHAT DID THE ADVOCATE GENERAL SAY?
Advocate General (AG) PK Navadgi, representing the state, however, denied the allegations of segregation and strongly objected to Kamat’s submission.
The AG also said that reasonable restrictions must be imposed on the purported right to don the hijab in an educational institution.
He also added that there should be no impression to the effect that the state was not showing generosity.
"We have not intervened in the matter. Autonomy is given to colleges to decide about uniforms. I am only hear to address on the larger questions of law [sic]."Advocate General
STONES PELTED, POLICE DEPLOYED, SAFFRON PROTESTS UNDERWAY
Meanwhile, stone pelting was reported on Tuesday as a group of students wearing saffron scarves staged a protest against hijabs at a college in Shivamogga. The saffron flag was also hoisted on the campus. Police have been deployed as tension prevails.
Also, a ruckus erupted at the Mahatma Gandhi Memorial (MGM) College in Udupi on Tuesday after a mob of male students, donning saffron scarves and headgear, protested against the wearing of hijab on campus.
Visuals from the MGM College showed a large number of saffron-clad boys at the gates of the college, where a group of girls had assembled in support of Muslim girls' right to wear hijab.
Further, Section 144 has been imposed in Harihara and Davangere till further orders, after protests continued in the towns over the hijab issue.
The issue has been ongoing since 28 December 2021, when the Kundapur Pre-University College in Udupi had prohibited six girls wearing hijabs from attending classes.
WHAT THE KARNATAKA GOVT HAS SAID
Amid the ongoing hijab row in Karnataka, Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai on Tuesday, ordered the closure of all high schools and colleges for the next three days in the State.
"All the concerned people (in the Udupi hijab row) should keep the peace & let children study. The matter will be presented in High Court today, let’s wait for it," Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai had said on Tuesday, ahead of the hearing.
The state government will take a decision on the issue once the order comes, Bommai had said on Monday.
"Stringent action will be taken against those who are contributing to disturbing the situation in educational institutions [sic]," said Karnataka Home Minister Araga Jnanendra on Tuesday, as per ANI.
"Students should think beyond religion. Uniform is symbol of equality. I suspect some vested interest behind these issues (Udupi row). I directed cops to inquire about it as to who is involved in instigating it [sic]," he had said on Monday.
Hijab for Muslims Is Like Hindu's 'Mangalsutra,' Sikh's Turban: Cong MP in Lok Sabha
Congress MP from Kerala TN Prathapan on Monday raised the issue in the Lok Sabha, demanding the Union education minister's intervention in the matter.
"Girls are sitting outside classrooms and demanding their fundamental rights. The hijab is a part of the cultural and religious identity of these girls. It is like the mangalsutra for Hindus, crucifix for the Christians and turbans for the Sikhs," Prathapan said during Zero Hour.
(With inputs from ANI.)