Petitioners in favour of hijab in some government educational institutions requested the Karnataka High Court on Monday to allow them to wear headscarves of the colour of the school uniform.
Muslim girls from PU college in Udupi, barred from attending classes for hijab made the plea to the full bench of the High Court comprising Chief Justice Ritu Raj Awasthi, Justice J M Khazi and Justice Krishna M Dixit.
Advocate Devadatt Kamat, appearing on behalf of the girls told the bench, “As far as Muslim girls are concerned, the Kendriya Vidyalaya also permits them to wear headscarves of the school uniform colour and the same could be done here.”
“Headscarves are an essential religious practice, and restricting its use was violating Article 25 of the Indian Constitution,” he argued.
Article 25 of the Indian Constitution reads: “Subject to public order, morality and health and to the other provisions of this part, all persons are equally entitled to freedom of conscience and the right freely to profess, practise and propagate religion.”
Kamat argued where was the law as mandated under Article 25 regulates or restricts any economic, financial, political or other secular activity.
He noted that the College Development Committee (CDC) comprising of an MLA and subordinates has been authorised by the government to decide the uniform.
“A CDC comprising an MLA is an extra-constitutional authority and a third party to decide what to wear. The government has assigned its responsibility to this third party,” the counsel for Muslim girls argued.
Informing the bench that the girls have been wearing hijab for the past two years ever since they took admission, Kamat pointed out that the fundamental rights of his clients were curtailed due to the other students suddenly sporting a cloth displaying their religious identity.
“State says that wearing of headscarf can be a problem as other students want to display their religious identity,” he added.
The Karnataka High Court has adjourned a further hearing of the case to Tuesday.