Bengaluru: There is no law banning the wearing of veils in educational institutions, students who have been banned from wearing the hijab argued in the Karnataka High Court today.
Lead Counsel Devadat Kamat, who appeared on their behalf, said the hijab is protected by the religious freedoms granted by the constitution.
And no higher education development authority is in a position to make a decision as to whether it can be banned for breach of public order. Noting that the Islamic scriptures made the hijab compulsory in the Holy Quran, he said: “We do not have to go to any other authority and this is protected by Article 25.”
Hurting Muslim girls wearing headscarves nobody, she said. , noting that religious freedoms can only be banned if they interfere with public order.
“What does the state say to restrict my religious rights? If he says public order, there will be a problem for the children of two faiths,” he added. The hijab row began last month when students at a school in Udupi refused to remove their headscarves despite requests from teachers. Five students went to court.
As the protests spread, schools and universities were closed for three days and security measures in and around Bangalore were stepped up.
The judge handling the case later referred it to a larger court and ruled in a controversial injunction last week that schools and colleges could reopen but religious clothing, including hijab, would not be allowed.
Amid the row, a government regulation last week left universities to decide whether to allow headscarves. Schools have no authority to respond to a public order call and it was the state’s duty to do so.
In this case, the state has renounced its duty. Speaking of two sections of Article 25 of the Constitution dealing with religious freedoms, the lead attorney asked, “Where is the law under which the veil is prohibited?”.
“The government’s statement that wearing the veil is not protected by Article 25 is completely false,” he added. Even Kendriya Vidyalayas allow hijabs of the same uniform color, noted Mr. Kamat.
“Kendriya Vidyalayas still allow by decree that Muslim girls, even if they wear a uniform, can wear a headscarf in the color of the uniform,” he said. The hearing will resume tomorrow afternoon.
As schools reopened this morning, social media was flooded with images of various schools forcing students to remove their veils before entering campus. Some students returned home and did not want to take off their veils. Parents’ request to remove them. Once they were in the classrooms, it couldn’t be heard.