Karnataka HC restrains students from wearing hijab, saffron shawls in class
The Karnataka High Court, in its interim order pending considerations of all petitions related to the hijab row, has asked the state government to reopen educational institutions and restrained students from wearing saffron shawls, scarves or hijab in the classroom.
The court also made it clear the order was restricted to institutions wherein the college development committees had prescribed a dress code or uniform.
“We request the state government and all other stakeholders to reopen the educational institutions and allow the students to return to the classes at the earliest. 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,” the full bench of the HC, comprising Chief Justice Ritu Raj Awasthi, Justice Krishna S Dixit and Justice J M Khazi, said in the order, made available on Friday.
The judges expressed their pain over the ongoing agitations and closure of educational institutions, “especially when this Court is seized of this matter and important issues of constitutional significance and of personal law are being seriously debated”.
The court also noted that India is a country of plural cultures, religions and languages.
Being a secular state, the country does not identify itself with any religion as its own, the bench said, adding, every citizen has the right to profess and practise any faith of choice.
“Ours being a civilised society, no person in the name of religion, culture or the like can be permitted to do any act that disturbs public peace and tranquility. Endless agitations and closure of educational institutions indefinitely are not happy things to happen,” the court observed.
Stating that the interest of students would be better served by their returning to the classes than by the continuation of agitations and consequent closure of institutions, the court said the academic year is coming to an end shortly and hoped all stakeholders and the public at large maintained peace and tranquility.
The court has posted the matter for February 14.
The full bench was formed on Wednesday to hear the petitions by the Muslim girl students challenging the ban on hijab after the single bench of Justice Dixit, who had been hearing the case since Tuesday, referred it to Chief Justice Awasthi with a view that the petitions can be heard by a larger bench.
The Karnataka government on Thursday night decided to resume classes for high school students from Monday following the court observation to reopen schools.
It also said that students will not be allowed to wear anything related to their faith that could instigate people.
The government’s decision to resume classes up to Class X from February 14 and for pre-university and degree colleges thereafter came at a meeting chaired by Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai.
The hijab row started in Udupi with six girls coming to the college wearing head scarves citing their faith in December end. In reaction, a few Hindu students began turning up at the college wearing saffron scarves.
The issue spread to other parts of the state leading to tension and violence on the campus in certain places. In Bagalkote, police resorted to lathi charge when the crowd gathered in the college due to vehement protests from both sides.
Subsequently, the government announced a three-day holiday from Wednesday for high schools and pre-university colleges to avoid any further disturbances and untoward incidents on campuses.