Indian state’s high court upholds ban on hijabs in school

0
13

March 15 (UPI) — The high court of Karnataka state in southwest India upheld Tuesday a school ban on wearing a hijab or headscarf despite religious protests.

“We are of the considered opinion that wearing of a hijab by Muslim women does not form part of the essential religious practice in the Islamic faith,” Chief Justice Ritu Raj Awasthi, of the three-judge bench on the court, who read out the verdict, said, Hindustan Times reported.

Advertisement

A school uniform policy banning the wearing of the hijab was “a reasonable restriction, constitutionally permissible, which the students cannot object to,” Awasthi added.

Six students from the pre-university government college for girls in Udupi, Karnataka, who were denied entry to the classroom over wearing hijabs, petitioned the high court in late January, alleging the school’s dress code against wearing hijabs discriminated against them.

Prior to petitioning the high court, the girls and their parents had tried to reach an amicable settlement with the college, but failed to do so, according to the Hindustan Times.

Lawyer Anas Tanwir tweeted after the verdict, the girls would appeal to the Supreme Court, the Indian English-language daily newspaper added.

The ruling followed weeks of religious protests over the right to wear the Islamic garment in schools and counter-protests, and Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai urged calm after the ruling since authorities feared it could reignite the protests, CNN reported.

Advertisement

“I request everybody to follow the high court order and maintain peace and order,” Bommai told reporters Tuesday. “And allow the children to do their education as usual.”

Protests included a small protest against the school uniform policy in January and rival protests from right-wing Hindus, and protests in other Indian cities, including capital Delhi, in support of the Muslim girls.

Experts and activists say the uniform policy is part of a broader crackdown on India’s minority Muslim population under India Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s rule.