The Supreme Court on Monday questioned the challengers Order of the High Court of Karnataka about the ban on the wearing of headscarves in educational institutions, with the question “Students can wear whatever they want at school and religious practices should not be set aside?” The Supreme Court will rehear a batch of 23 petitions on September 7 (Wednesday).
A bench of Judges Hemant Gupta and Sudhanshu Dhulia posed numerous questions to senior advocate Sanjay Hegde, who was appearing for the lead plaintiff in the case and said, “A student can come in lab, midis, whatever they want. You may have a religious right, and you may exercise that right in an educational institution where uniforms are prescribed. You may be entitled to wear a headscarf or scarf. Can you exercise your right in an educational institution that mandates uniforms? “
In response to this, Hegde said, “Someone can be kicked out of college because that person doesn’t follow the uniform rules. Is this right?
“Most universities prescribe salwar, kameez and Dupatta. So now we can tell a grown woman that you can’t control your modesty or put it on top of your head. ? Could this be done in Patiala? Probably not,” added Hegde.
Here, Justice Gupta recalls an incident at the highest court where a female lawyer showed up wearing a pair of jeans and she was told not to. She can also say “I’ll wear what I want.”
“Someone can tell her you won’t go to court because of your dress,” said Hegde
At this point Justice Gupta turns around and asks Hegde, “You say that educational institutions can’t make rules but what about the State, unless there is a statute prohibiting dress codes.”
Hegde then explained to the bench how the government order was inconsistent with the Karnataka Education Act.
“The order states not to wear clothing that represents the religion being professed. The contrary command is the object and purpose of the action and it cannot be used to give direction. Even under Rule 11 , a uniform is required to be in accordance with the mandate of the Act,” he submitted while stating that any change in attire would have to be given one year’s notice according to the statue.
Hegde then commented on how the Sabarimala issue was moved to a larger bench and sought the same direction, saying that the issue involved questions regarding scope and how interpretation of Article 25.
However, the bench disagreed with his submission and said, “You can have a religious right, and you can exercise that right in an educational institution where uniforms are prescribed. You have may have the right to wear a headscarf or scarf exercise the right in an educational institution that regulates uniform .”
Additional general counsel KM Natraj told the bench “The only problem is discipline in an organization, and they don’t want to follow it. They cannot violate the regulation of school uniforms in the attire of the religious rites being violated”.
Karnataka General Advocate (AG) Prabhuling Navadgi told the bench what led to the issuance of the government order and submission, “School authorities have written to us seeking guidance since Hijab students wore bhagwa shawls and subsequently led to unrest in educational institutions.” On March 15, Karnataka High Court dismissed a series of lawsuits filed by Muslim female students. Teachers studying at pre-university colleges in Udupi demand the right to wear headscarves in class.
He added that, “The state has been careful not to prescribe any uniforms but has left the door open for all organizations to regulate uniforms. Some organizations have banned the hijab.”
The court will resume arguments on Wednesday (September 7) and will require all parties to prepare a summary of their arguments and submit it.
The court is hearing a series of lawsuits challenging the Karnataka High Court’s decision to uphold a state government order empowering government colleges’ development committees to ban hijab in schools and college campus.
The Karnataka High Court has dismissed a series of lawsuits filed by Muslim girls studying at pre-university colleges in Udupi demanding the right to wear the hijab in class.
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