Hijab ban not changing Islam, Karnataka govt tells Supreme Court

The Karnataka government argued in the Supreme Court that banning hijab is not equivalent to altering Islam, as wearing the headscarf is not an essential religious practice.

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The Supreme Court is hearing petitions challenging the Karnataka government's ban on hijab in educational institutions. (PTI file photo)

The Karnataka government on Wednesday informed the Supreme Court that banning hijab is not equivalent to altering Islamic faith, as wearing the headscarf is not an essential religious practice.

“The fact is that not wearing hijab will not change the colour of the religion. It cannot be said that Islamic faith will change without hijab. It is not a binding practice,” Karnataka advocate general P Navadgi argued before the top court.

The Supreme Court was hearing arguments on a batch of petitions challenging the Karnataka High Court verdict refusing to lift the ban on hijab in educational institutions of the state that have prescribed uniforms.

The Karnataka AG put forth that the Education Act and the government order (GO) of February 2022 do not ban hijab, and the law is only to allow college administration to regulate and impose uniform.

“Everytime the school administration tries to bring in discipline, some part of fundamental rights would be affected. Can you test ever discipline and rule over reasonable restrictions for public order and morality?” he argued.

“If someone covers their head, how are they violating public order or unity?” the bench queried.

Wrapping up the Karnataka government’s arguments, Navadgi said, “Prescription of uniform dress is valid. It's not a case of citizen vs state. This is a case of student vs school administration. Essential religious practice has not been established. It is also not established that any right of freedom of expression is involved. Privacy right cannot be exercised in all zones. Decisional autonomy cannot apply.”

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