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Karnataka HC upholds ban on Hijab in Educational Institutes; says it’s not an essential religious practice of Islam

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In a landmark decision, the Karnataka High Court on Tuesday dismissed various petitions challenging a ban on Hijab in education institutions. The High Court said wearing Hijab is not an essential religious practice of Islam.

“We are of the considered opinion wearing of Hijab by Muslim women does not form a part of essential religious practice in the Islamic faith,” the court said.

The court said no case is being made out for invalidating the government order of February 5. The full bench of the High Court comprising Chief Justice Ritu Raj Awasthi, Justice Krishna S Dixit, and Justice JM Khazi was constituted on February 9 on a petition filed by girls from Udupi who prayed that they should be allowed to wear Hijab even inside the classroom along with the school uniform as it was part of their faith.

Anas Tanwir, a Supreme Court lawyer, tweeted that students in the contentious Udupi college will contest the order in the Supreme Court. “Met my clients in Hijab matter in Udupi. Moving to SC soon In sha Allah. These girls will In sha Allah continue their education while exercising their rights to wear Hijab. These girls have not lost hope in Courts and Constitution,” read his tweet.

Karnataka education minister BC Nagesh hailed the verdict and tweeted, “I welcome the landmark judgment of Hon’ble Karnataka High Court on School/College uniform Rules. It reiterated that the law of the land is above everything.”

The bench constituted on February 9, heard a batch of petitions on a day-to-day basis over the last two weeks filed by some girls seeking permission to wear hijab in educational institutions. The girls were denied entry into a pre-university government college for girls in Udupi on December 28 for wearing the headscarf, which triggered the debate.

What began with two colleges in the coastal districts of Udupi and Mangaluru snowballed into a statewide row last month after more institutions announced a ban on hijab. Hindu groups mobilized groups of men wearing saffron shawls to oppose the entry of women in hijab in schools and colleges, while isolated clashes broke out in Shivamogga, forcing the state government to issue a controversial order on February 5 that said students will not be allowed to attend classes wearing hijab.

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