SC agrees to consider hearing pleas against Karnataka HC verdict
New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Tuesday agreed to consider the list of pleas challenging the verdict of the Karnataka High Court which rejected petitions seeking permission to wear the hijab inside the classroom.
A bench consisting of Chief Justice NV Ramana and Justices Krishna Murari and Hima Kohli took note of submissions by lead counsel Meenakshi Arora, representing one of the petitioners, that the plea needed an urgent hearing.
“I’ll list it. Wait two days,” the CJI said.
Several petitions have been filed in the Supreme Court against the verdict of the Karnataka High Court that wearing the hijab is not part of the core religious practice which can be protected under Section 25 of the Constitution.
The high court had rejected petitions filed by a section of Muslim female students at the Government Pre-University Girls College, Udupi, asking for permission to wear the hijab inside the classroom.
The school uniform requirement is only a reasonable, constitutionally acceptable restriction which students cannot object to, the High Court has said.
In one of the pleas to the Supreme Court, the petitioner said the High Court “erred in creating a dichotomy between freedom of religion and freedom of conscience in which the court inferred that those who follow a religion cannot have the right to conscience. “”
“The High Court did not note that the right to wear the hijab falls within the right to privacy under Article 21 of the Constitution of India. It is argued that freedom of conscience is part of the right privacy,” it said.
The plea stated that the petitioner had applied to the High Court for redress for the alleged breach of his fundamental rights against the State Government Order of 5th February 2022, issued under Sections 7 and 133 of the Karnataka Education Act 1983.
The High Court had held that the government had the power to issue a contested order dated February 5, 2022, and no case is made for its invalidation.
By the said order, the Karnataka government had banned the wearing of clothes that disturb equality, integrity and public order in schools and colleges, which the Muslim girls had challenged in the High Court.
Challenging the February 5 government order, the claimants had argued before the High Court that wearing the Islamic headscarf was an innocent practice of faith and an Essential Religious Practice (ERP) and not a mere manifestation of religious chauvinism.
The petitioners had also argued that the restriction violated freedom of expression under Article 19(1)(A) and Article 21 dealing with personal liberty.