SC delivers split verdict on K’taka hijab issue

New Delhi: The Supreme Court has delivered a split verdict in the Karnataka hijab ban case. In view of the “divergence in opinion”, the apex court directed the matter to be placed before the Chief Justice of India for appropriate directions.

While Justice Hemant Gupta dismissed the appeals challenging the Karnataka High Court order, Justice Sudhanshu Dhulia allowed them.

The bench had reserved its verdict on the pleas on September 22 after hearing arguments in the matter for 10 days.

On March 15, the Karnataka high court had dismissed the petitions filed by a section of Muslim students of the Government Pre-University Girls College in Karnataka’s Udupi seeking permission to wear the hijab inside classrooms, ruling it is not a part of the essential religious practice in Islamic faith.

The HC while holding that wearing the hijab is not an essential religious practice in Islam and freedom of religion under Article 25 of the Constitution is subject to reasonable restrictions, also upheld an order issued on February 5 by the state, which suggested that wearing hijab can be restricted in government colleges where uniforms are prescribed and ruled that such curbs under norms for college uniforms are “constitutionally permissible”.

Appealing against this, some of the Muslim students approached the SC saying the “right to wear hijab comes under the ambit of ‘expression’ and is thus protected under Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution”.

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