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The Supreme Court on Monday, while hearing petitions challenging the ban on wearing hijab in educational institutions, asked the petitioners whether girls can wear whatever they want in educational institutions. A division bench of Justice Hemant Gupta and Justice Sudhanshu Dhulia made the remarks when the court was hearing various petitions challenging the Karnataka High Court’s decision upholding the ban on educational institutions. Senior advocate Sanjay Hegde, appearing for the petitioner, questioned the state’s power to prescribe uniforms as per the Karnataka Education Act.
The court asked can the girl students come wearing anything?
The court asked whether there is no such power to order uniforms, whether girls can come wearing minis, midies, whatever they want. The court observed that there is a dress code in some public places as some restaurants allow a formal dress code, in some restaurants you can go in a fixed dress. The court also said that wearing hijab may be a religious practice, but the question is, can you wear hijab in a school where uniform is prescribed? Senior advocate Hegde tried to draw similarities with chunni and turban and said that dupatta is already a part of uniform and chunni is allowed. Chunni and turban cannot be compared with hijab as it covers the shoulder.
Lawyer’s argument, at least one year’s notice is necessary if the uniform is to be changed
Senior advocate Sanjay Hegde also supported his contention, citing the Karnataka Education Act, saying that as per the rules, if you have to change the uniform, you have to give at least one year’s notice. During the hearing, the Supreme Court wanted to know how wearing hijab violates school discipline. The Advocate General of Karnataka narrated the incident related to the issue and informed the Supreme Court that when some students started protesting for the hijab, another group of students wanted to wear saffron shawls, leading to a situation of unrest and After that a government order was issued on 5 February.
Karnataka AG said, institutions have got rights
The Karnataka AG said that the government has directed the institutions to prescribe uniforms and it does not violate the rights of the students. The government only says that follow the prescribed uniform. During the hearing, the Supreme Court wanted to know whether hijab would be allowed in any minority institution. The Karnataka AG replied, Yes, maybe and said that the government has left the authority to fix the uniform to the institute and there is no government interference in it. Since the hearing remained inconclusive, the matter was adjourned till September 7. Various petitioners have approached the apex court challenging the order of the Karnataka High Court.