The appeal has been filed against the Karnataka High Court order that held that the petitioners’ pleas against the hijab ban are ‘devoid of merit’ and so are not maintainable.

Muslim students with a picture of the Supreme Court in the background
news Hijab row Tuesday, March 15, 2022 - 19:31

Hours after the Karnataka High Court upheld the hijab ban in classrooms, a Muslim student has filed a special leave petition in the Supreme Court against the High Court’s order. The plea has been filed by a student from Udupi, Niba Naaz, through Supreme Court advocate-on-record Anas Tanwir. A synopsis of the plea states that the Karnataka High Court in its impugned order has “vehemently failed to apply its mind” and “was unable to understand the gravity of the situation, as well as the core aspect of the Essential Religious Practices enshrined under Article 25 of the Constitution of India.” 

The student has said that the Karnataka Education Act, 1983, and the Karnataka Educational Institutions (Classification, Regulation and Prescription of Curricula, etc) Rules, 1995, do not provide for any mandatory uniform to be worn by students and that these rules apply to primary education and not pre-university colleges. “The action of the Respondents in prohibiting the students from accessing classrooms is devoid of any legal basis,” the student has said. The student has added that the Karnataka High Court has “failed to note” that there “does not exist any provision in law which prescribes any punishment for students for not wearing uniforms.” 

The student has also submitted that there is no law that allows the formation of a ‘College Development Committee’ that can decide uniforms. The student has also said that the Karnataka government’s February 5 order, mandating a dress code, is ‘beyond the scope of powers’ it has. 

“This public order was passed with an indirect intent of attacking the religious minorities and specifically the followers of Islamic faith by ridiculing the female Muslim students wearing Hijab. This ridiculing attack was under the guise of attaining secularity and equality on the basis of uniform wherein the College Development Committees prohibited the students wearing Hijab from entering the premises of the educational institutions. This step-motherly behaviour of Government authorities has prevented students from practising their faith which has resulted in an unwanted law and order situation,” the student has said. 

The student has added that the High Court has “failed to note” that the right to wear a hijab comes under the ambit of the right to privacy, under Article 21 of the Constitution of India; under the ambit of ‘expression’ and is protected under Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution; as well as under Article 25 of the Constitution, as part of the right to conscience. “It is submitted that since the right to conscience is essentially an individual right, the ‘Essential Religious Practices Test’ ought not to have been applied by the Hon’ble High Court in this instant case,” the synopsis of the plea adds. 

“The Petitioner most humbly submits that the Hon’ble High Court has erred in creating a dichotomy of freedom of religion and freedom of conscience wherein the Court has inferred that those who follow a religion can not have the right to conscience,” the student petitioner has said. “It also misinterpreted the law in accordance with the given facts and erred heavily while granting relief to the Petitioner by taking a stand in favour of the Respondent, thus, failing to offer relief to the Petitioner for its misery,” the synopsis adds. 

Also read: Reading the judgment: Why Karnataka HC dismissed pleas against hijab ban

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