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‘Hijab not essential religious practice of Islam’: Karnataka High Court upholds hijab ban in educational institutions

Ahead of the order, large gatherings were banned for a week in state capital Bengaluru "to maintain public peace and order".

Pronouncing the judgement on Hijab controversy, Karnataka High court upheld ban on Hijab in all educational institutions in its judgement, saying uniform is mandatory especially when Hijab is not an essential religious practice of Islamic Faith.

Dismissing the writ petitions filed by Muslim girl students seeking permission to wear hijab in colleges, the court further said that the prescription of uniform is a reasonable restriction and students cannot object to it.

Pronouncing the verdict, Chief Justice of Karnataka High Court Ritu Raj Awasthi said the court had looked into various aspects of hijab including whether wearing hijab is an essential religious practice or is it protected under Art 25?

The CJ said the answer to such questions was that wearing of hijab by Muslims does not form essential religious practice in Islamic faith.

While reading the operative part of the judgment, the chief justice also said that no case is made out for invalidation of government order in connection with dress code and all the petitions are devoid of merit.

Section 144 has been imposed in Udupi and other districts of the state, schools closed for the day and security tightened due to fear of communal tensions after High Court verdict.

The Karnataka hijab row emerged on January 1, 2022, when some Muslim students of a pre-university college in Karnataka’s Udupi were not allowed to attend classes wearing a hijab, as the dress was against the prescribed norms of the college.

The protests soon spread to other colleges and districts in the state.

After multiple hearings in the Karnatka HC regarding the issue, the three-judge bench issued a verdict on Tuesday, March 15, that hijab was not part of the essential religious practice under Islam. They further said that the restrictions on wearing uniforms are a reasonable restriction and that students cannot object to this.

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