Bengaluru: A Karnataka High Court three-judge bench, hearing pleas on the hijab row, on Thursday February 10 directed the government to reopen schools in the state.
As the bench of Chief Justice Ritu Raj Awasthi, Justice Krishna S. Dixit and Justice Khaji Jaibunnesa Mohiyuddin began hearing the matter, the Chief Justice told Advocate General Prabhuling Navadagi to open schools in the state.
“Closure of schools is not a good development. Take necessary action and conduct classes. See to it that no problem surfaces,” he said.
Amid tensions and even violence over the matter, the state government on Tuesday announced a three-day holiday for all schools and colleges in the state from Wednesday.
The petitioners arguing for hijab stated that there is no harm in students wearing hijab. Hijab is a fundamental right and it does not cause any problem to others, and so, they should be allowed to wear hijab of the same color as their uniform, they said, arguing that the government has issued circular on uniform “hurriedly”.
The petitioner’s further stated that the bench should give an interim order on the issue in the students’ interests as students are outside schools in their interest. They also argued that as per the Karnataka Education Act, uniform is not compulsory for students and they only be fined Rs 25 for violating the uniform rules.
As Chief Justice Awasthi intervened here, asking whether the petitioner is saying uniform is not required, the petitioner submitted that as per act, it is not compulsory. It is okay for primary school students but uniforms for college students is being objected, he said.
Navadagi, however, opposed issue of an interim order on the issue and stated that there are various developments surrounding the issue.
Earlier, the single bench headed by Justice Dixit, which heard the matter, which has snowballed into a major crisis in the state and discussed at international levels, decided the matter to be heard by the larger bench. It directed the High Court Registrar to submit the documents and petitions immediately to the Chief Justice as the matter is of utmost importance and needs to be heard urgently.
The single bench opined that there are questions related to the Constitution, there are aspects related to personal laws, and half a dozen court verdicts have been discussed in connection with the case. “I have verified more than 12 verdicts in this regard. There are arguments and counter-arguments related to the case. Let, the Chief Justice decide on handing over the matter to an extended bench,” Justice Dixit stated while referring the case to a larger bench.
However, the bench refused to give an interim order even as petitioners pleaded to give a ruling on wearing of hijab to classes as only two months are left for this academic year.
As many as seven petitions have been submitted to the court so far challenging the government circular of making uniform compulsory and upholding the decision taken by the college managements and development committee regarding wearing of hijab.
Meanwhile, State Minority Education Institutions Association President Mohammad Imtiaz has submitted a complaint to the state police chief Praveen Sood regarding minorities being targeted in connection with hijab row.
“The protests are targeting minorities. Few of them are trying to destroy the law and order situation. They are attempting to create unrest in the society and create a controversy. Raghupathy Bhat, BJP MLA who is also President of School Development Management Committee of Udupi Pre University Women’s College, is responsible for the crisis,” the complaint stated.
The hijab row started last month with few students of Udupi Government Pre-University College wearing hijab being denied permission to attend classes. The college authorities maintain that the students who used to come without hijabs have suddenly started coming in hijab. The students later went on protest refusing to attend classes without hijab. The issue became a controversy and spread to other districts, leading to tension and even violence.