Hijab Row Verdict: Here’s What Supreme Court Delivers Split verdict

A two-judge bench of the Supreme Court on Thursday delivered a split verdict on a batch of petitions challenging the Karnataka High Court judgment refusing to lift the ban on hijab in educational institutions of the state.

While Justice Hemant Gupta dismissed the appeals, Justice Sudhanshu Dhulia allowed them, contending that “it’s a matter of choice, nothing more, nothing less”. The matter has now been placed before the Chief Justice of India for appropriate directions.

As the legal stalemate over the politically sensitive issue continues, the ban on hijab in educational institutions of Karnataka is likely to stay in place.

The Supreme Court bench had reserved its verdict on the pleas on September 22 after hearing arguments in the matter for 10 days. On March 15, the High Court had dismissed the petitions filed by a section of Muslim students of the Government Pre-University Girls College in Karnataka’s Udupi seeking permission to wear the hijab inside classrooms, ruling it is not a part of the essential religious practice in Islamic faith.

During the arguments in the apex court, a number of counsel appearing for the petitioners had insisted that preventing Muslim girls from wearing the hijab to the classroom will put their education in jeopardy as they might stop attending classes.

Counsel for the petitioners had argued on various aspects, including on the state government’s February 5, 2022 order which banned wearing clothes that disturb equality, integrity, and public order in schools and colleges.

Some advocates had also argued that the matter be referred to a five-judge constitution bench. On the other hand, the counsel appearing for the state had argued that the Karnataka government order that kicked up a row over hijab was “religion neutral”.

Insisting that the agitation in support of wearing hijab in educational institutions was not a “spontaneous act” by a few individuals, the state’s counsel had argued in the apex court that the government would have been “guilty of dereliction of constitutional duty” if it had not acted the way it did.

The state government’s order of February 5, 2022 was challenged by some Muslim girls in the high court. Several pleas had been filed in the apex court challenging the High Court verdict.

Read in Hindi: हिजाब विवाद का फैसला: सुप्रीम कोर्ट ने दिया विभाजित फैसला