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Judiciary

Karnataka High Court Denies Interim Relief To Allow Degree College Students To Wear Headscarves

By Komal Kinger      23 February, 2022 09:34 AM      0 Comments
Interim Relief To Allow Degree College Students To Wear Headscarves

On February 21st, 2022, the Karnataka High Court declined to give any interim relief to two degree college students at Bhandarkar College of Arts and Science, Udupi, who requested that the college allow them to attend lessons while wearing their headscarves (hijab).

During the hearing of a petition brought by two students from the Bhandarkar College of Arts and Science in Udupi, a single judge bench led by Hon'ble Justice Krishan S.Dixit denied interim relief. The bench noted that the interim order had already been issued by the Full Bench on February 10 and that no further relief could be granted by a single bench, especially as the Full Bench's hearing was still ongoing.

The Hon’ble Bench Observed that "The interim order granted by the Full Bench on February 10 , 2022 in Writ .Petition No. 2347/2022 and connected matters serves the cause of justice, as rightly submitted by the learned Attorney General .

It added, "When important questions of law are being debated before the Full Bench on a day-to-day basis, no other interim relief can be granted to the petitioners except the one granted by the Full Bench, in the fitness of things, the petitioners arguably being the students of degree colleges."

On February 10, during the hearing, the Supreme Court observed that they would hear the hijab petition at an "appropriate time," but a three-judge bench of the Karnataka High Court refused to grant any relief to Muslim girl students seeking the right to wear the hijab in educational institutions and classrooms in an interim order.

The Full Bench, in its interim order on February 10, 2022, instructed that "Pending consideration of all these petitions, we restrain all the students, regardless of their religion or faith, from wearing saffron shawls (Bhagwa), and related matters like scarves, hijab, religious flags, or the like within the classroom."

 

The Full Bench had also stated that its order was only applicable to universities with a dress code. The decree stated, We make it clear that this order is limited to those institutions where the College Development Committees have established the student dress code and uniform.

The petition to declare hijab wearing as an essential religious practise and the freedom to wear it as a fundamental right was de-linked by the single bench on February 8. Petitioners are enrolled in the Bhandarkar College of Arts and Science in Udupi, where they are pursuing a bachelor's degree in business administration. They stated that, like other Muslim students, they have worn their usual head scarf over their college uniform since the first day of classes.

The interim order was issued in response to a group of five petitions submitted by Muslim female students challenging the decision of some educational institutions to prohibit the wearing of the hijab (headscarf) in the classroom. Invoking provisions under Sections 7 and 133 of the Karnataka Education Act, 1983, several of these petitions also questioned the Karnataka government's order of February 5, 2022, enforcing a ban on hijab in college campuses and classrooms. Under Rule 11 of the Karnataka Educational Institutions (Classification, Regulation & Prescription of Curricula, etc.) Rules, 1995, the state government authorised the College Development Committees (CDCs) to prescribe "student uniforms" in their respective colleges.



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