Hijab not essential for religious practice, rules Karnataka HC in a blow to protesting students
Bengaluru/IBNS: The Muslim students protesting against a ban on wearing hijab or head scarfs inside classrooms in schools and colleges on Tuesday received a blow by the Karnataka High Court, which ruled out the necessity of any such piece of cloth to practice the Islamic religion, media reports said.
"Wearing hijab is not an essential religious practice," the high court ruled after the row over the diktat entered into the courtroom.
The court announced the verdict on petitions challenging the ban filed by students amid tight security enforced by the administration.
The row had started in January as students at a school in Udupi district of Karnataka refused to remove headscarves and stop their use despite requests from teachers.
The students had contended that there is no law that prohibits the use of headscarves in educational institutions.
According to the students, the hijab is protected under the religious freedoms granted by the Constitution and no college development body is equipped to take a call on whether it can be banned in view of a public order violation.
The Karnataka government had told the court that there is no restriction on wearing hijab in India except reasonable restrictions subject to institutional discipline.
A confrontation between the Muslim students, who insisted on wearing the hijab, and the supporters of the ban outside the college were seen in several parts of the south Indian state.
In one video which went viral on social media, a Muslim girl was seen confronting a group of boys who had protested against the wearing outside an educational institution.
The students had also garnered the support of the country's primary opposition party Congress with its top leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra saying women can wear anything be it "bikini" or a "hijab" or a "ghoonghat".