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‘Hijab Not Essential Religious Practice In Islam’: Karnataka High Court

Socio Legal Corp

Written By – Aishwarya

A Full Bench of the High Court further held that prescription of school uniform by the State is a reasonable restriction the students’ rights under Article 25 and thus, the Government Order issued by the Karnataka government dated February 5 is not violative of their rights.

The Court said that it has framed the following questions :

1. Whether wearing hijab is ERP in islamic faaith protectedunder Article 25

2. Whether prescription of school uniform is violative of rights.

3. Whether GO of Feb 5 apart from being incompetent and manifestly arbitrary violates Articles 14 and 15

4. Whether any case is made out for issuance of disciplinary inquiry against college authorities.

“Our answers to the questions are, wearing of Hijab by Muslim women does not form Essential Religious Practice in Islamic faith. Our second answer is prescription of school uniform is only a reasonable restriction, constitutionally permissible which students cannot object to.

An important question before the Court in this case was whether wearing of hijab is part of essential religious practise of Islam and whether State interference in such matters is warranted. The court was also called to consider whether wearing of hijab partakes the character of right to expression under Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution and whether restriction can be levied only under Article 19(2).

The Advocate General appearing for the State argued: (i) wearing of hijab does not fall within the essential religious practise of Islam; (ii) right to wear hijab cannot be traced to freedom of expression under Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution; (iii) Government Order dated February 5 empowering College Development Committees (CDCs) to prescribe uniform is in consonance with the Education Act.

In his rebuttal arguments, Kamat argued that people who want to wear head scarf are being denied right to education on the pretext of the impugned GO.

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