The Supreme Court will on Thursday pronounce its verdict on a batch of pleas that challenged the Karnataka High Court’s judgement refusing to lift the ban on hijab in educational institutions in the state. The apex court’s bench, comprising Justices Hemant Gupta and Sudhanshu Dhulia, had reserved its verdict on September 22 after hearing arguments in the matter for 10 days.
A look at the timeline of the hijab row in Karnataka:
In late December last year, six female students of Government PU College in Udupi claimed that they were not allowed to enter their classrooms wearing hijab. The students protested against the college authorities, saying they were refused to enter the classroom with their faces covered. The protests later gained statewide momentum.
Following suit, Udupi’s Bhandarkar college, in Karnataka on February 4 barred entry of hijab-clad students, becoming the first private college to do so.
On February 5, The BJP-led Karnataka state government issued a directive backing the order by several educational institutions, and said, “Clothes that disturb equality, integrity, and public law and order should not be worn.” It stated that wearing a headscarf is not an essential religious practice for Muslims and that it can be protected under the Constitution of India.
The Muslim women challenged the state government’s order in the Karnataka HC and contended that wearing a hijab is a fundamental right of Muslim women.
The high court on February 11 passed an interim order prohibiting students from wearing religious clothing – hijab, saffron stoles, scarves, etc.
In its final verdict on March 15, the Karnataka HC dismissed the petitions filed by the Muslim students and ruled that wearing a hijab is not an essential religious practice.
Several pleas were filed in the apex court challenging Karnataka’s HC verdict.
A number of counsel appearing for the petitioners in the apex court during the arguments had insisted that preventing Muslim women from wearing the hijab to the classroom will put their education in jeopardy as they might stop attending classes. Meanwhile, the counsel appearing for the state had argued that Karnataka’s order was “religion-neutral”.