Hijab ban to continue in K'taka till SC verdict: Education Minister

Women hold placards as they stage a protest in support of female Muslim students of Karnataka over 'hijab' issue, in Thane, Sunday, February 13, 2022. Photo: PTI

Bengaluru: Karnataka Primary and Secondary Education Minister B C Nagesh on Thursday said the Karnataka High Court order upholding the state government's ban on hijab on school and college campuses will remain valid following a split verdict by the Supreme Court on the issue.

The Supreme Court on Thursday delivered a split verdict on a batch of pleas challenging the Karnataka High Court judgement refusing to lift the ban on hijab in educational institutions in the state.

While Justice Hemant Gupta dismissed the appeals against the high court verdict, Justice Sudhanshu Dhulia allowed them.

At a time when there is a movement happening against hijab and burqa across the globe and the freedom of women is a talking point, the Karnataka government had expected a better judgment that will bring order in the education system but a split verdict has come, Nagesh told reporters.

The matter has now been referred to a higher bench, Nagesh said adding the Karnataka government will wait for the verdict by a higher bench.

"The Karnataka High Court order will remain valid. Hence, in all our schools and colleges Karnataka education act and rule, there will be no scope for any religious symbols. So our schools and colleges will run as per the Karnataka High Court order. Children will have to come to the schools accordingly," Nagesh said.

"The ban on hijab will continue. As you know that the Karnataka Education Act and Rule do not permit any religious items inside the class. So we are very clear that no student can wear hijab inside the class," Nagesh explained.

Karnataka Home Minister Araga Jnanendra said he saw the hijab verdict in the media where one judge dismissed the petition while the other dismissed the Karnataka High Court order.

"There is a split verdict and the case has gone to the Chief Justice's bench. It depends on the decision taken by the CJI. The Karnataka government is awaiting an order by the CJI," Jnanendra told reporters.

On January 1 this year, six girl students of a college in Udupi attended a press conference held by the Campus Front of India (CFI) in the coastal town protesting against the college authorities denying them entry into classrooms wearing hijab.

This was four days after they requested the principal's permission to wear hijab in classes which was not allowed. Till then, students used to wear the headscarf to the campus, but entered the classroom after removing it, the college principal Rudre Gowda had said.

"The institution did not have any rule on hijab-wearing as such and since no one used to wear it to the classroom in the last 35 years. The students who came with the demand had the backing of outside forces," Gowda had said.

The High Court upheld the Karnataka government's decision banning hijab on school and college campuses.

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