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Hijab Ban Forces Muslim Girls Out of School: Advocate to SC on Day 5 of Hearing

"This circular is opposed to legitimate state interest and public interest," Ahmadi said in the Supreme Court.

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Hijab Ban Forces Muslim Girls Out of School: Advocate to SC on Day 5 of Hearing
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The Supreme Court, on Wednesday, 14 September, continued the hearing of petitions challenging the hijab ban in educational institutions in Karnataka.

During the hearing, Senior Advocate Huzefa Ahmadi, appearing for the petitioners, said that by prohibiting hijab in schools, the State has forced Muslim girls out of schools, Live Law reported.

He further argued that the Karnataka government's order banning the hijab in schools misunderstands the concept of fraternity and confuses the same as the anti-thesis of diversity.

The batch of petitions filed by female students challenging the ban on hijab in Karnataka educational institutions is being heard by a bench of Justices Hemant Gupta and Sudhansu Dhulia.

"Restrictive practices will result in drop outs. This circular is opposed to legitimate state interest and public interest," Ahmadi said, as quoted by Bar and Bench.

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He also added that even if it is found that hijab is not an essential religious practice, it will be be protected by Article 29 (1) as a cultural right.

"Why should anyone get provoked if someone wears a Hijab to school? Why should any other student have a problem?" Ahmadi said, adding that "If it does, you have to address that. Otherwise you're allowing someone to be bullied."

"To say, I will not accept someone else wearing the Hijab is contrary to fraternity in the preamble," he added.

'17,000 Students Abstained From Exams': Ahmadi

During the hearing, judges discussed the high dropout rate among girls, but stated that the issue of dropout rate was never raised before the high court.

When asked about authentic figures of the same, Ahmadi submitted that 17,000 students abstained from the exam.

Ahmadi said the effect of the government order in the matter would be that girls, who were earlier going and taking secular education in schools, will be forced to go back to madrasas, reported news agency PTI.

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Legitimate State Interest Is To Encourage Diversity

Furthermore in his submissions against the government order, Ahmadi said that "Legitimate state interest is to encourage diversity. Not standardise everything. Why should someone feel that someone's religious observances obstruct secular education or unity."

"Does public interest lie in enforcing discipline or does it lie in promoting education? And what is the degree of discipline which is compromised by allowing someone to hear a Hijab?" he asked.

Ahmadi also urged the bench to refer the matter to a larger bench.

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Background

The Supreme Court began hearing arguments in the batch of petitions challenging the ban on hijab in educational institutions in Karnataka on Monday, 5 September. On 29 August, the top court issued a notice in the matter.

In March this year, the Karnataka High Court upheld the state government's ban on Muslim students wearing hijabs in schools and colleges. The ban was packaged as a general rule on following uniforms without wearing religious garb.

The female students had protested the hijab ban, first imposed by individual institutions and then through a government order, and had said that it was a component of their essential religious practice.

They also said that their freedom to dress that way was constitutionally validated as freedom of conscience and that such bans on their religious attire were hostile discrimination.

(With inputs from LiveLaw, Bar and Bench, and PTI.)

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Edited By :Tejas Harad
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