Hijab row: What were the key pro-hijab arguments of the petitioners in Karnataka HC?

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Check some of the key arguments made from the petitioners’ side protesting against the hijab ban in schools and colleges across Karnataka. 

Hijab row

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After days of protests, allegations, violence, and back-to-back hearings concerning the controversial Hijab row in Karnataka, the final hearing on the hijab controversy have been scheduled in the Karnataka High Court on Tuesday. As the court has upheld the hijab ban, Section 144 has been imposed in Bengaluru and other cities across the state. 

It has been over two months since female Muslim students across Karnataka have been protesting to be allowed to attend classes wearing the hijab as a right to the freedom of expression. However, the fire of the Hijab row has taken over the entire state reaching out to other neighbouring states as well where several protests have erupted across educational institutions with female students seeking protection of their rights to wear hijab in schools and colleges. On the other hand, many came forward against the girls’ demands. Students were seen wearing saffron scarves to schools and colleges as a mark of protest against the Muslim girls’ hijab demand. 

An expert committee was also formed by the state government to resolve the issue. However, a petition was filed in the Karnataka HC by the students seeking a declaration of wearing a hijab as a fundamental right.

While the face-off between the students standing for and against the hijab ban has reached a boiling point, Karnataka High Court started hearing the cases petitions filed by the students. Read on to know the key arguments placed by the petitioners’ side. 

Pro-hijab arguments placed in Karnataka HC

Senior advocate Devadutt Kamat who has been representing the female Muslim students in both the Karnataka High Court and the Supreme Court has presented a series of arguments in favour of the students. While the matter is being heard by a three-judge bench comprising of Chief Justice of Karnataka High Court Ritu Raj Awasthi, Justice Krishna S Dixit, and Justice JM Khaziduring, in the total of 11 days of hearing a slew of arguments has been presented by the petitioners’ side as well as state government over the issue. Check some of the key arguments made from the petitioners’ side protesting against the hijab ban in schools and colleges in Karnataka. 

  • The first major argument made by the petitioners’ lawyers concerned essential religious practices. Kamat has repeatedly pointed out that Muslim girls are being forced to give up what they perceive as essential religious practices and thus should be allowed to do so. 
  • The second major argument from the petitioners’ side noted the freedom of conscience and constitutional morality which should be protected. Stating that the right is claimed under articles 25(1) and 19(1), a senior advocate Yusuf Mucchala argued, 

What matters is the entertainment of a conscientious belief by an individual; it is not necessary to determine whether it is an integral part of the religion.

  • In the third major argument presented by the lawyers of the petitioners, they pointed to the issues of discrimination faced by the female students on the part of the state by targeting hijab alone in the educational institutes. Stating the same, senior advocate Raviverma called it a violation of Article 15 argued that Muslim girls are being sent out of their classroom just because of their religion, however, this is not the same for girls wearing “bindi” or a Christian wearing a cross. 

Image: Shutterstock/PTI

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