The Karnataka government has made uniforms compulsory for students appearing for the SSLC (Secondary School Leaving Certificate) or class 10 board exams beginning on Monday, March 28, amid the ongoing hijab row in the state. A circular issued by the Karnataka Department of Primary and Secondary Education on Friday, March 25, said that students of government schools will have to appear in uniforms prescribed by the government. Private school students (aided and unaided) will have to wear the uniform prescribed by their respective school managements, the circular said.
Signed by V Srinivasamurthy, under-secretary of the primary and secondary education department, the circular cites the Government Order (GO) issued by the Karnataka government, on February 5, 2022, which allowed school managements and college development committees to decide on the dress code for students. The circular also said that the recent verdict by Karnataka High Court ratified the Government Order.
The February 5 order states that in government schools, students should adhere to the dress code prescribed by the government, while in private schools the dress code will be decided by the school management. On March 15, after months of turmoil in the state over the issue of Muslim girl students wearing the hijab being denied entry to educational institutions, the Karnataka High Court dismissed student petitioners’ pleas against the ban on hijab in classrooms and campuses.
The court said that “wearing the hijab is not an essential practice under Islam”, and allowed the government to prescribe a uniform, ruling that the “uniform is a reasonable restriction on fundamental rights which the students cannot object to”. The Supreme Court on March 24 refused to accord urgent hearing on the pleas challenging the Karnataka High Court verdict.
A bench comprising Chief Justice NV Ramana and Justice Krishna Murari denied the request of senior advocate Devadatt Kamat who mentioned the matter seeking urgent listing saying that examinations are going on. "These are girls...the exams are from March 28. They are being prevented from entering the schools. One year will go," Kamat said. The court, however, did not accept the request.
The SSLC exams will be held from March 28 to April 11. More than 8.73 lakh candidates are set to appear for the exam, of which 421,110 are female and four are transgender candidates, according to Hindustan Times.