Ban on wearing hijabs in Indian schools upheld in court

A controversial ban on wearing hijabs in classrooms in part of India has been upheld by a court, in a decision that has been branded "deeply disappointing".

The ban last month by the state of Karnataka sparked protests by Muslim students and parents as well as counter-protests by Hindu students.

The issue was widely seen by India's large Muslim minority as a bid to sideline the community in the Hindu-dominated nation, and some fear the verdict could lead to similar bans in other states.

A number of female Muslim students are considering dropping out of college over the judgement, which was handed down on Tuesday.

Chief Justice Ritu Raj Awasthi of the High Court of Karnataka said that the wearing of the hijab by Muslim women "does not form a part of essential religious practice in Islamic faith".


He said in the judgement the government had the power to prescribe uniform guidelines, dismissing various petitions challenging the state ban.

"We are of the considered opinion that the prescription of school uniform is only a reasonable restriction constitutionally permissible which the students cannot object to," Awasthi said.