HC refers hijab matter to larger bench; govt to wait for court verdict

Having regard to the enormity of questions of importance which are debated, the court is of the considered opinion that the papers be put at the hand of CJ to decide if a larger bench can be constituted in the subject matter, said Justice Dixit

Hijab
Referring to the Mandya incident, in which a Muslim girl Muskan was heckled outside her college by a group of boys wearing saffron scarves, state education minister BC Nagesh said 'Allahu Akbar or Jai Shri Ram' will not be encouraged in campuses.

The Karnataka high court has referred the hijab matter on Wednesday (February 9) to a larger bench due to the “enormity of questions of importance” under debate.

Hearing the matter on the hijab row, Justice Krishan Dixit said a larger bench can consider the issue. “The wisdom emanating from neighbouring HC judgments needs to be treated. If you feel and all agree I can do this, ” said the single bench judge. These matters give rise to certain constitutional questions of seminal importance in view of certain aspects of personal law, he observed.

In his order, Justice Krishna Dixit wrote, “Having regard to the enormity of questions of importance which are debated, the court is of the considered opinion that the papers be put at the hand of CJ to decide if a larger bench can be constituted in the subject matter.” The Chief Justice Awasthi can constitute the larger bench exercising his discretion, he added.

Senior advocates Sanjay Hegde and Devadatta Kamat representing the petitioners had requested the court to grant an interim order allowing the students to attend the classes but the Attorney General representing the Karnataka government was against it.

Meanwhile, the Karnataka cabinet had on Wednesday decided not to take a decision on the hijab row and said it will wait for the HC’s verdict. The hijab row had escalated in the state leading to violence in Shimogga and Udupi and this led to the state government closing the high schools and colleges for three days.

Meanwhile, to avoid any further escalation of the row, the Karnataka police department has also issued an order today that gatherings, agitations or protest of any type within the area of 200-meter radius from the gate(s) of schools, PU colleges, degree colleges or other similar educational institutions in Bengaluru city, is prohibited for two weeks with immediate effect.

Also read: Students in Karnataka flout govt order & wear banned saffron scarves to college

The role of the organisations that instigated protests across the state will be probed, said the Karnataka home minister Araga Janendra. As tensions ran high, schools and colleges across the state remained shut according to the orders issued by CM Basavaraj Bommai on Tuesday.

The Karnataka High Court hearing

The Karnataka High Court today had resumed hearing the petitions filed by five girls studying in a Government Pre-university College in Udupi, questioning hijab restriction in the college.

The Attorney General representing the Karnataka government said on Wednesday that there are large judgments that the hijab does not form an integral part of the religious practice, LiveLaw reported. The AG further pointed out that children must attend the class adhering to the dress code prescribed by the college.

Meanwhile, the Law and Parliamentary Affairs Minister J C Madhuswamy said, “We (at the cabinet) discussed the Hijab row, but as the High Court is hearing the matter, we felt it is not appropriate for the cabinet to take any further decisions on the issue today. It was decided to wait for the court’s verdict before taking any decision.”

Briefing reporters about the cabinet decisions, Madhuswamy said that as the matter is sub-judice, discussing it will not be appropriate, as material and merit of the case will get involved.

What political leaders are saying

Meanwhile, the state education minister BC Nagesh referring to the Mandya incident of a Muslim girl Muskan being heckled outside her college by a group of boys wearing saffron scarves, said that the authorities will not encourage ‘Allahu Akbar or Jai Shri Ram’ on campuses.

Earlier, he had said that students who were unwilling to adhere to a uniform dress code were willing to explore other options. The Opposition in Karnataka too did not bell the cat and failed to take a stand on the issue.

Let the court decide whether to allow or disallow hijab in schools, colleges, said leader of Opposition in the state, Siddaramaiah.

Last week, the government had issued an order making uniforms prescribed by it or management of private institutions mandatory for its students at schools and pre-university colleges across the state.

Hijab issue in Karnataka enters UP election campaigns

While campaigning in Sambhal on Tuesday, AIMIM chief Asaduddin Owaisi said that the BJP government is not allowing “our daughters to wear a hijab and study but Prime Minister Narendra Modi talks about empowering Muslim women with the triple talaq law”. Is this his Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao campaign pitch? he asked.

While Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi tweeted that it is a woman’s right to decide if she wanted to wear a bikini or a ghoonghat or a pair of jeans or a hijab. “This right is guaranteed by the Indian Constitution. Stop harassing women,” she wrote.

On the Karnataka hijab row, BJP MP Hema Malini said, “Schools are for education and religious matters should not be taken there. Every school has a uniform that should be respected. You can wear whatever you want outside the school.”

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