Schools have right to impose dress code: Kerala High Court

Justice A. Muhammad Mustaque said in a significant order, “individual interest must yield to the larger interest.”

Kochi: The High Court has declined to intervene in the right of a school management to refuse permission for girl students to wear headscarf and full-sleeved shirt instead of the prescribed school uniforms. Justice A. Muhammad Mustaque said in a significant order, “individual interest must yield to the larger interest.”

“I am of the considered view that the petitioners cannot seek imposition of their individual right as against the larger right of the institution. It is for the institution to decide whether the petitioners can be permitted to attend the classes with head scarf and full- sleeve shirt. It is purely within the domain of the institution to decide on the same. The court cannot even direct the institution to consider such a request,” the judgment said.

The court gave the order on a petition filed by two students of Christ Nagar Senior Secondary School, Thiruvananth-apuram, asking the school authorities to permit them to wear headscarf and long-sleeved shirts instead of the school uniform. The school declined the permission for it on the ground that it was against the dress code prescribed for the students.

Examining the matter in detail, the court dwelt upon the issue of personal liberty of individuals to dress as per their free will and the right of a private entity to administer and manage its institution. Stating that fundamental rights are either in the nature of absolute right or relative right, the court observed that absolute right is non-negotiable while relative rights are subject to restrictions imposed by the Constitution. Observing religious rights as relative rights, the court then examined the matter evoking the concept of dominant and subservient interest in a situation of competing rights.

“The dominant interest in this case is the management of the institution. If the management is not given the free hand to administer and manage the institution, it would denude their fundamental right,” the court observed. The constitutional right is not intended to protect one right by annihilating the rights of others, it said.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle. )
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