Ban on wearing hijab by students is discriminatory, counsel tells the Karnataka HC

THE petitioners challenging the ban on wearing hijab by students before the Karnataka High Court today sought to invoke multiple grounds to attack its legitimacy. The grounds cited by the counsel included violation of their rights to equality, privacy and non-arbitrariness. The High Court was told that the goal of education was to promote plurality and heterogeneity, and not to promote uniformity or homogeneity. It was also emphasised that classrooms should be a place for recognition and reflection of diversity in society.

The High Court bench comprising the Chief Justice Ritu Raj Awasthi, and Justices Krishna S. Dixit and J.M. Khazi, on Wednesday, continued hearing the petitions challenging the prohibition on wearing of hijab imposed by government schools and colleges in Karnataka.

At the start of the hearing, senior advocate Kaleswaram Raj suggested that the court should prescribe the order and time limit for all advocates. The Advocate General, Prabhuling K. Navadgi, supported the suggestion.

The Chief Justice responded, saying that there were too many petitions, intervention applications, and public interest litigations filed in the matter and not all of them may be maintainable or necessary to be heard.

Yesterday, Senior Advocate Devadutt Kamat concluded his arguments. Senior Advocate Ravivarma Kumar, representing a section of students, commenced arguments yesterday and continued to argue today.

Kumar submitted that under the Karnataka Education Act, if there was to be a change in uniform, the authorities were required to publish a notice one year in advance. He submitted that no such notice was issued to ban the wearing of the hijab. He further submitted that uniforms in pre-university colleges were not mandatory and that while some colleges had made it compulsory, the same was illegal.