Hijab row: Plea in SC challenging Karnataka HC’s interim order

New Delhi: A plea was moved in the Supreme Court on Friday challenging the Karnataka High Court’s interim order directing students not to insist on wearing religious attire till the matter is decided.

The plea filed through advocates Rahamatullah Kothwal and Adeel Ahmed said: “The right to wear hijab falls under right to expression under Article 19 (1)(a), right to privacy and freedom of conscience under Article 25. The same cannot be infringed upon without a valid law”. The college administration has resisted a group of students’ insistence to wear Hijab. The matter has triggered reaction, where others have worn saffron shawls.

The plea filed by Mohamed Arif Jameel and D.J. Halli Federation of Masajids Madaaris and Wakf Institutions contended that the high court through its order has sought to curtail the fundamental right of the Muslim student-women by not allowing them to wear the hijab and pursue their education. “It is, therefore, necessary that an appropriate order be made staying the operation of the impugned order till the disposal of this petition otherwise the purpose of filing of special leave petition may be defeated and the same may be rendered in-fructuous”, said the plea.

Citing the high court order, the plea said the Karnataka government has issued an order denying the entry to the Muslim women wearing Hijab in the educational institutions. “The impugned order creates an unreasonable classification between the non-Muslim female students and the Muslim female students and thereby is in straight violation of the concept of secularism which forms the basic structure of the Indian Constitution”, added the plea.

The plea said the students concerned have to appear in practical examinations scheduled on February 15 and any interference on their access to institutions would impede on their right to education.

A three-judge bench of Chief Justice Ritu Raj Awasthi, Justice Krishna S. Dixit and Justice J.M. Khazi had passed the oral observations and scheduled the hearing on petitions challenging Hijab ban on Monday. The high court said: “We will pass an order. Let the schools-colleges start. But till the matter is resolved, no student should insist on wearing religious dress”.

The Supreme Court on Thursday refrained from giving a specific date for the urgent listing of a plea seeking transfer of petitions from the Karnataka High Court, which is currently examining the permissibility of hijab in schools and colleges.

Senior advocate Kapil Sibal mentioned the matter before a bench headed by Chief Justice N.V. Ramana.

Sibal submitted that this deals with what is happening in Karnataka, and its spreading in the entire country. The Chief Justice told Sibal that the Karnataka High Court is already examining the issue and it should be allowed to decide it. “Why should we jump in at this stage? It does not look nice,” said the top court.

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