Karnataka HC reserves judgment on petitions challenging hijab wearing restriction

AAfter 11 days of marathon hearings, the Karnataka High Court on Friday reserved judgment on a slew of petitions challenging restrictions on wearing the hijab in government college classrooms. A full bench comprising Chief Justice Ritu Raj Awasthi and Justices Krishna S. Dixit and JM Khazi granted freedom to all parties to the case, including intervenors, to file their written submissions.

Meanwhile, the interim order passed by the bench on February 10 prohibiting students from wearing the hijab or any other religious attire in educational institutions will continue to apply.

The bench today heard submissions in a rejoinder put forward by counsel appearing for the claimants’ side. Senior Counsel Yusuf H. Muchhala reiterated his arguments that the essential religious practice test [ERP] is not applicable to claim the individual right to conscience under Article 25(1). He added that even if the court decides that the ERP test should be satisfied, it would agree with lead counsel Devadatt Kamat’s submissions in this regard that wearing the hijab is an obligation under Islam. Muchhala argued that the genuine belief of Muslim girls should be protected and respected by the court.

Senior Attorney Ravivarma Kumar, representing another petitioner, sought to counter the state government’s claim that college development committees [CDS] was formed under the hardship removal clause under the Education Act of Karnataka. Kumar argued that such a provision cannot be used to create a new body. He also said that out of 12 CDC members, 11 are appointed by the local legislator. He thus argued that the absolute power of legislators to manage the affairs of schools is illegal and unconstitutional, because a legislator cannot exercise an executive function.

Lawyer Mohammad Tahir, on behalf of the petitioners, alleged that the CDC resolution, which was presented to the court, was fabricated. In this regard, he drew the court’s attention to inconsistent dates on the document. To this, Senior SS Counsel Naganand argued that the document contained a typographical error and was not fabricated. Tahir argued that nothing has been produced to show the CDC served between 2014 and 2021. Tahir went on to say that while the state has emphasized secularism, ceremonies like saraswati pooja were taking place at school. He also argued that Advocate General Prabhuling K. Navadgi’s suggestion that if hijab was declared an essential practice, women who did not wear hijab would be removed from Islam was wrong and overstated. He backed up his argument by stating that many Muslims have not performed naamaz (prayers) and still haven’t been thrown away.

Tahir concluded that if the school was declared a secular place where no cultural or religious practices could be practiced, it would set a precedent to regulate any public place in the same way and that the culture and traditions of the petitioners would be confined to the four walls. of their house.

Before concluding the hearing, the bench also heard from Barrister Subash Jha, appearing in a motion filed by Barrister Ghanshyam Upadhyay, seeking investigations from the Central Bureau of Investigation. [CBI] and National Intelligence Agency in turmoil in Karnataka over hijab row. He alleged that the hijab issue was repeatedly raised at the behest of organizations like Jamaat-e-Islami and Popular Front of India, which intended to Islamize India. He argued that there was coordination behind the filing of the petitions and the protests which took place simultaneously. To this, the court noted that investigations were underway and that the state would deal with it.

The Chief Justice repeatedly asked Jha to show evidence to support his case for a CBI investigation. He also observed that the local police were doing their job.

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