Deccan Chronicle

Karnataka Hijab Row: SC says let Karnataka HC hear case first

ANI | DC Correspondent

Published on: February 10, 2022 | Updated on: February 10, 2022

The Apex Court refused to urgently list the plea challenging Karanataka government rule on dress code

Supreme Court of India (PTI)

Supreme Court of India (PTI)

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Thursday refused to urgently list a plea challenging the Karanataka government rule on dress code that created a raging controversy over wearing hijab.

A Bench of Chief Justice NV Ramana and Justices AS Bopanna and Hima Kohli said a three-judge bench of the Karnataka High Court is hearing the matter today afternoon while expressing hesitation about the apex court's intervention at present.

The bench's observation came after senior advocate Kapil Sibal mentioned the plea for urgent hearing of the case saying that girls are being stoned and schools and colleges are also closed in the state.

At the outset, Sibal said the petition deals with what is happening in Karnataka and it is spreading all over the county. He further said that the exams are two months away and the matter has to go before the nine-judges bench.

"No, let the High Court decide. It's too early to interfere for us. The problem is if we list, the High court will not hear the matter. You want the matter to be transferred?" CJI said.

To this Sibal contended, "Please just list the matter, I am not asking for an order. If High Court doesn't do anything you can then transfer the case here."

As Sibal insisted the bench to list the matter, the CJI said, "Alright. We will see." It did not give any specific date for hearing the case.

The fresh plea was filed by Fathima Bushra, a Udupi college student, questioning the legality of the Karnataka Government Order, issued on February 5, 2022, prescribing guidelines for a dress code for both government and private schools, and pre-university colleges in the state in the light of the hijab controversy.

The plea filed through advocate Javedur Rahman sought direction to the principal of Government PU College Kundapura, Udupi District to permit Bushra to physically attend her classes.

The petition urged to declare the State Government's direction dated February 5, 2022, as "illegal and ultra vires, being in contravention of Articles 14, 19(1)(a), 21, 25 and 29 of the Constitution as well as ultra vires the provisions of the Karnataka Education Act, 1983".

It sought direction to quash the February 5 government order whereby the State Government has directed/backed up the college development committees to prescribe school/college uniform for the students inter-alia highlighting therein that wearing of Hijab is not protected under Article 25 of the Constitution of India.

The petition stated that Bushra was left without any remedies pertaining to her continuance of education in the school when her final exams are only two months away prefer the present writ petition under Article 32 of the constitution seeking not only protection but enforcement of her fundamental rights under Articles 14, 19, 21, 25 and 29 of the Constitution.

"Something as innocuous as wearing of a Hijab by a Muslim girl student has been turned into a communal issue of such magnitude that the State Government has had to declare the school and colleges to be shut down," the plea stated.

"A Muslim girl pursuing her education wearing a hijab/headscarf offends no right of any person and militates against no State interest. The Petitioner herein does not wear the Hijab as a form of any political symbolism or to intimidate, heckle or belittle her fellow classmates or any other person," she stated in her plea.

Yesterday, a single bench of Justice Krishna S Dixit of High Court had referred the petitions filed by Muslim girl students to a larger bench while observing that important questions relating to Constitutional rights and personal law are involved.

A bench of Chief Justice Ritu Raj Awasthi, Justice Krishna S Dixit and Justice JM Khazi of the High Court will hear the petitions today at 2.30 pm today.

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