Hijab row: Muslim petitioners move SC after Karnataka HC verdict

A mere few hours after the Karnataka high court judgement’s verdict on the hijab row, a Muslim student Niba Naaz has moved the Supreme Court against the Karnataka High Court verdict claiming “unconstitutionality”.

A special leave petition has been filed on behalf of Niba Naaz who will be represented by Supreme Court lawyer Anas Tanwir.

The plea was filed by two Muslim students, Manan and Niba Naaz. Their advocate Anas Tanwir quoted by IANS said, “The Petitioners most humbly submit that the High Court has erred in creating a dichotomy of freedom of religion and freedom of conscience wherein the court has inferred that those who follow a religion cannot have the right to conscience.”

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“The High Court has failed to note that the right to wear a Hijab is protected as a part of the right to conscience under Article 25 of the Constitution. It is submitted that since the right to conscience is essentially an individual right, the ‘Essential Religious Practices Test’ ought not to have been applied by the Hon’ble High Court in this instant case,” noted the plea.

The Karnataka High Court’s three-judge bench headed by Ritu Raj Awasthi ruled that hijab does not qualify as an essential practice of Islam thus siding with the state-run college’s dress code.

Background of the hijab row:

The hijab controversy erupted and has been raging since January, after students of a pre-university college in Karnataka’s Udupi were prohibited from wearing headscarves (hijab), as part of their religious obligation, in the college premises. The issue blew up after Hindu students turned up to their colleges wearing saffron scarves in a protest against hijab Muslims being allowed to wear headscarves.

The state was forced to form a committee to decide over the issue and prohibited the students from wearing any religious garment, including the hijab until a decision is reached.

However, a number of protests by saffron-clad students and Muslims around the state forced the state to shut down schools and colleges for a few days.

Educational institutions that were shut down by the state were directed to reopen, ensuring that the state’s diktat, which prevents any religious garment from being worn to the institutions, is strictly adhered to.

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