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'Kindly Allow Hijab on Fridays and During Ramzan': New Plea for Interim Relief

HC, on Thursday, continued hearing pleas by Muslim girls seeking protection of their right to wear hijab to classes.

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Law
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Edited By :Saundarya Talwar

As the Karnataka High Court on Thursday, 17 February, continued to hear the petitions filed before it by Muslim girl students seeking protection of their right to wear hijab to classes, Dr Vinod Kulkarni, party-in-person, asked the court to pass an interim order allowing Muslim girls to wear hijab to educational institutions at least on Friday, and during the holy month of Ramzan.

"The interim relief I am seeking is that, kindly pass an order today that Muslim students may be allowed to sport Hijab at least on Fridays, the 'jumma' day, the most auspicious day for Muslims; and during the holy month of Ramzan – which is coming very soon.”
Dr Vinod Kulkarni

The month of Ramzan will begin in April.

Kulkarni also said that Muslim girls would wear the hijab with their full school uniform.

He was subsequently told by the court that they would consider his arguments. No order, however, was passed on Thursday.

The matter has been posted for further hearing at 2:30 pm on Friday. It is being heard by a three-judge bench of Chief Justice Ritu Raj Awasthi, Justice Krishna S Dixit, and Justice JM Khazi.

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Kulkarni, during the course of his arguments, also said that the hijab issue was affecting the mental health of Muslim girls, and that as per the preamble to the Constitution, "guarding health is the duty of the state."

The court, on Thursday, further, dismissed a PIL filed by advocate Rahamathulla Kotwal, on the grounds that it was not maintainable.

The Ongoing Case

Previously, on Wednesday, senior advocate Yusuf Muchhala argued that Article 25(1) of the Constitution specifically recognises "freedom of conscience," which is distinct from the "right to profess, practise and propagate religion."

He noted that some people might not believe in any religion, or might believe in all of them – freedom of conscience protects these individual beliefs and choices in the same way as an established religious belief.

"When a right is claimed under Article 25(1) and 19(1)(a), what matters is the entertainment of a conscientious belief by an individual; it is not necessary to determine whether it is an integral part of the religion."
Senior Advocate Yusuf Muchhala

Further, senior advocate Ravivarma Kumar, on his part, alleged hostile discrimination by the government and asked why were they singling out the hijab.

"This is only because of her religion that the petitioner is being sent out of the classroom. A bindi-wearing girl is not. A bangle-wearing girl is not. A Christian wearing a cross is not. Why only these girls? This is a violation of Article 15."
Senior Advocate Ravivarma Kumar

The high court had previously heard detailed arguments from senior advocate Devadatt Kamat on why the government's order was unconstitutional, and why the wearing of the headscarf was, in fact, an essential religious practice for them. He had also argued that a heckler's veto cannot be used to prevent the girls from exercising their fundamental rights.

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On 10 February, the bench had agreed to hear the pleas filed by the girls but had refused to pass an interim order allowing them to continue wearing hijab until the court arrived at a final decision.

Instead, while directing the reopening of colleges in the state, the judges had controversially ordered that no student should wear any religious clothing while the court continues to hear the case.

"Pending consideration of all these petitions, we restrain all the students regardless of their religion or faith from wearing saffron shawls (Bhagwa), scarfs, hijab, religious flags, or the like within the classroom, until further orders."
Karnataka High Court order, dated 10 February

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