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The hearing on the hijab case continued in the Supreme Court on Thursday as well. During this, the court observed that the Sikh kirpan and turban have no comparison with the hijab as it is permissible for Sikhs to wear turban and kirpan. A bench of Justices Hemant Gupta and Sudhanshu Dhulia made these observations while hearing various petitions challenging the Karnataka High Court’s decision upholding the ban on hijab in educational institutions. Advocate Nizamuddin Pasha, appearing for one of the petitioners, tried to draw parallels between kirpan and turban and hijab.
Lawyer argues that hijab is part of Muslim girls’ religious practice
Pasha said that hijab is part of the religious practice of Muslim girls and asked if girls can be prevented from coming to school by wearing hijab. He further argued that Sikh students also wear turbans. Pasha insisted that cultural practices should be protected. To this, Justice Gupta said that comparison with Sikhs cannot be fair as the carrying of kirpan is recognized by the Constitution. So don’t compare practices. Justice Gupta observed that the turban has statutory requirements and all these practices are well established in the culture of the country.
We don’t want to be like France or Austria, the court said
Pasha tried to give the example of foreign countries like France. Justice Gupta said that we do not want to be like France or Austria. The court said that we are Indians and want to live in India. Pasha opposed the decision of the Karnataka High Court, saying that the hijab protects Muslim women. Pasha said the conclusion of the Karnataka High Court that hijab is a cultural practice is based on assumption. He cited various religious books to support his arguments. He also argued that it was a misinterpretation that the High Court held that the hijab was a recommendation and not a requirement.
Senior advocate Devdutt Kamat said that not every religious practice is necessary, but it is not that the state keeps on prohibiting it. During the hearing, Kamat, appearing for another petitioner, apprised the court that Karnataka, Kerala and Madras High Court judgments held differing views on whether hijab was a necessary religious practice or not. Kamat said courts in Madras and Kerala have treated hijab as an essential religious practice, but the Karnataka High Court is different. He said that the order on uniforms in the educational institutions of Karnataka government has been given without thinking.