Appeal filed in SC against Karnataka High Court interim order

Muslim women hold placard during a protest in support of wearing 'hijab' in educational institutions, at Shaheen Bagh in New Delhi on 10 February 2022

An appeal has been filed in the Supreme Court against the Karnataka High Court’s interim order calling for restraint on students from wearing Hijab or any religious attire till the matter is pending with Court.

Filing the appeal, J Halli Federation of Masjid Madaaris and Wakf Institutions, contended that the Karnataka High Court on Thursday has sought to curtail the fundamental right of Muslim student-women by not allowing them to wear the Hijab and pursue their education.

In view of the impugned order, Muslim women students have been asked to not wear the ‘religious garments, including head-scarf, and not insist on wearing religious attire, stated the appeal while seeking stay on the High court order.

It also said that the concerned students have their practical exams beginning from 15 February, and any interference on their access to educational institutions shall impede their education.

“It is hereby submitted that the right to wear a Hijab falls within the ambit of the right of expression guaranteed by Article 19 (1) (a), the right to privacy and also the Freedom of Conscience under Article 25 of the Constitution. The same cannot be infringed upon without a valid “law,” added the plea challenging the High Court order.

“The government has issued an order thereby denying entry to the Muslim Women wearing Hijab in the educational institutions. The impugned order creates an unreasonable classification between the non-Muslim female students and the Muslim female students and thereby is in straight violation of the concept of secularism which forms the basic structure of the Indian Constitution. The impugned order is also in sheer violation of Articles 14, 15, 19, 21 and 25 of the Indian Constitution and also violates the core principles of the International Conventions that India is a signatory to. Being aggrieved by the impugned government order, as it is in violation of Indian constitution, the Petitioner had approached the High Court challenging the validity of the same,” the appeal in the apex court stated.

The three-judge full bench of chief justice Ritu Raj Awasthi, justice JM Khazi and justice Krishna S Dixit on Thursday, while asking students not to wear Hijab or any religious attire till the matter is pending with court, had posted the case for Monday, and said the educational institutions can resume classes for the students.

The bench said it wants the matter to be resolved at the earliest but till that time peace and tranquillity is to be maintained.

The chief justice had orally remarked that the bench would pass an interim order restraining the petitioners in the students from wearing Hijab or any religious attire till the matter is pending in the court.

Copy of the order is yet to be uploaded on the High Court website.

Yesterday, a fresh plea was filed before the apex court challenging the Karnataka government rule on dress code in the state which has set off an ongoing controversy over wearing Hijab.

The plea was filed by Fathima Bushra, an Udupi college student, questioning the legality of Karnataka government order, issued on 5 February 2022, prescribing guidelines for a dress code for both government and private schools, and pre-university colleges in the state in the light of the hijab controversy.